Bianca: I generally steer the ship when it comes to all food-related decisions in my relationship. But sharing is caring and wanting to steer our new MARRIAGE in the right direction I indulged the husband in a request. Apparently serving a quail dish you’d want to murder someone for… State Bird Provisions has been on every food-related list since they opened in 2012.
It’s easy to see why it’s so hard to get a reservation and walk up lines can span hours. I think the charm lies in its complete un-pretentiousness, yes they have a Michelin star but it’s so casual and down to earth, with reasonable prices.
The concept is an interesting one, with roving ‘dim sum’ carts/trays. Small plates of food to tempt your taste buds. We had a 9pm reservation on a Wednesday night, our stomachs pre-lined with a few celebratory cocktails at Pacific Cocktail Haven. We were ready to pounce on that tray once we had it in sight.
First up was the Persimmon with kinako, ginger & black sesame $6. I wasn’t overly excited when this came around but it wasn’t your typical mushy persimmon. Texturally similar to a carrot with a delicious sweetness, the thick black sesame sauce working well to balance the sweet & savoury.
From the menu, the Heirloom tomato-Fiscalini cheddar whole grain pancakes $9 were about 4-5 bites of pure heaven! A thick pikelet sized pancake topped with cheddar & a plump juicy tomato wedge. You’ll probably want to order a second serve.
Once we heard “pork belly” over our shoulder we instantly welcomed the Pork belly & stone fruit salad $8 to the table. Done in a dry style, wonderfully succulent salty pork, contrasting well with the marinated fresh apple.
Charred to near perfection, the ‘jerk’ octopus with potato & habanero $12 was tender to the bite, the heat was rather muted so don’t be turned off by the spice.
Garlic bread with burrata $11 sounded better in theory than in actual execution. Extremely doughy with almost zero garlic coming through. The pros, the burrata and …. at the end of the day, it’s a carbohydrate so naturally, I’m going to eat it and most likely love it.
Fried brussels sprouts toast with ‘bagna cauda’ $8, so Porteno pretty much changed how I saw Brussel sprouts. With shavings of rich cheese and the caramelised sprouts adding a whole other dimension.
And the dish everyone comes for – CA state bird with provisions $15 (half serve). Okay, flavour and texture wise this dish is insanely good, bite through the super crispy outer coating and you’ll be rewarded with juicy tender meat but you’ll cry handing over 15 bucks for a few nibbles of quail. The brined onion served raw retained some crunch but none of that intense pungent raw flavour. This really helped to cut through the richness of the quail.
The Duck Sausage had a mild fiery element, with crispy beans and puffed grains. I feel the real winner here was in the texture of the sausage.
And finally, to finish. Dark chocolate sesame crunch, toasted pecan mousse, pumpkin jam & huckleberries $12. This was a particularly clever dessert. Not too sickly sweet and the varying textures adding interest with each and every bite. I adored the dark chocolate ‘bark’ sheets alongside the intensely sour huckleberries.
Is it groundbreaking and revelatory? Not exactly, so do I recommend you visit if you can score a reservation? Absolutely!
I was just in San Jose a week ago, and shattered that I didn’t have time to go into SF for a day. The food scene between the two cities are like chalk and cheese, though I did have one revelatory brussels sprouts dish in San Jose. That Jerk octopus has me salivating.
Haven’t been to San Fran since I was a kid, so I appreciate this preview. The state bird does seem a little small but I am intrigued by that dessert!
I had to look up your review-I can’t believe I missed it the first time around! How good is the food here and I love the vibe too.