SF Eats: State Bird Provisions

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Last night I had the privilege of dining out at one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, State Bird Provisions. It was definitely one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had! But in order to thoroughly enjoy the experience, I think it’s important to prepare yourself for it. It is ideal to have a reservation (which must be booked months in advanced) but they do set aside 30% of their dining area for walk-ins. I went to the restaurant to line up a few minutes before they opened at 5:30 and there was already a line of about 40 people ahead of me. Upon reaching the hostess, she told me to come back at 9:30 for a party of 4. Although it was 4 hours later, I was happy to even be able to snag some seats because I was aware of the restaurant’s popularity.

Another smart idea is to go with more people, but not too many since it’s a small restaurant. 4 is the perfect number! They serve small plates, dim sum style and it’s more fun to order many plates to share. I also think it’s good to familiarize yourself with what they’re serving that night by looking on their website so that you can pace yourself with the dishes you choose. With dim sum style service, it’s definitely very easy to say yes to everything that comes your way and before you know it, you’re too full to enjoy other dishes!

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We started off our meal with this salmon tartare with pickled turnips. I would say that out of all the dishes that we ordered, this one was not as amazing as the other ones. The flavors were subtle but the salmon was deliciously creamy. The best part was the crispy quinoa and sesame seeds on top which added a wonderful crunchy texture. (I love texture!)

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Duck liver mousse with almond biscuits. The duck liver was really strong and I don’t know if I’m accurate but I believe I tasted alcohol in there? The almond biscuits were delicious! I could pop those tiny yummies in my mouth any day!

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Charred octopus in a tomato chickpea salsa. The octopus was cooked perfectly!

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Pork belly plum salad. Plum and pork belly. Who knew it could be such a delicious combination? Plums are so delicious right now! The pork belly was crispy yet creamy because of the fat.

Other items we got from the provisions (dim sum) section:
Garlic bread with burrata – creamy, light burrata atop warm and crispy bread.
Grilled rabbit, smoked potato and mushroom ragout – tender rabbit and extremely flavorful. The mushrooms were bursting with flavor from herbs with a slight tang.

From the pancake section:
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Pickled anchovy-sesame pancake with crème fraîche & basil. One of my favorites from the meal. The anchovy wasn’t too overpowering, the crème fraîche balanced everything out and the pancake was warm and fluffy.

From the commandables section:
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Pork spare ribs glazed in their own juices atop a bed of kale. The ribs were perfectly cooked, tender and extremely flavorful. The best part was the kale it was on which was so flavorful!

We also ordered the CA state bird with provisions (first picture). Quails have such tiny bones! It had a crispy outside with some pickled onions and some sort of shaved cheese. I enjoyed it very much.

And for the best part…dessert!
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I wanted everything on the dessert menu but ordered two desserts to share including this mint ice cream sandwich, chocolate-plum coulis, pistachios. We also ordered the birdseed bittersweet chocolate crunch, caramel cloud cream, blueberries. A bunch of different textures and flavors that balanced each other out perfectly.

My first time at State Bird Provisions was amazing! Every component of each dish was executed beautifully and worked well with another. There was an abundance of creativity and attention to detail in every dish. The cherry on top of a delicious meal was the service. Chefs would sometimes bring you the dish themselves and interact with the customers ensuring that they were enjoying their meals. Every single person who worked there embodied the same kindness and evident passion for their craft. It was such an inspiring place with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for small gatherings. I may have just found one of my new favorite restaurants in the city! I will surely come back, especially because their menu changes seasonally. But next time I will be booking reservations way in advance!

State Bird Provisions is located in the Western Addition.
Address: 1529 Fillmore Street (between Geary and Post)
Phone #: 415.795.1272
Note: They will be closed starting August 10th for 3-4 weeks (or more?) to expand next door.

***My apologies for the picture quality. I forgot my DSLR at home so all photos were taken under poor lighting with my iPhone 4S and edited with vscocam. Next time I will bring my DSLR!

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Good Eats from San Francisco (and East Bay)

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I took a recent trip to Northern California where I spent most of my time in San Francisco  eating my favorite food (ice cream, 6 days in a row…not gross at all!), exploring the different neighborhoods, and soaking up the rare sun rays in the otherwise foggy city. San Francisco has such an amazing food scene, one that I greatly admire and respect. Since I was there for 10 days, it meant that I had plenty of meals to spend exploring all the good food SF and the East Bay have to offer!

Here are photos of some notable dishes and meals from my trip:

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The shrimp ceviche from Chubby Noodle, a pop-up inside Amare bar in North Beach. The dishes were mediocre in my opinion, but I thought this ceviche was pretty good and I had a great time eating outside with friends while people-watching :)

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The #5 combo from Cordon Bleu Vietnamese Restaurant, a hole in the wall in Nob Hill. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this cheap plate of food that comes with a delicious and crisp egg roll, flavorful 5-spice marinated chicken, a strip of beef kabob (random), and some tomato based sauce to go on top of the rice. Definitely enough for two meals!

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This is the grilled pork on vermicelli from Pho Ao Sen in East Oakland. While they are known for their pho and bun bo hue, I almost always get the pork with vermicelli and love that this place gives you plenty of meat and provides a flavorful sauce!

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The fried egg and bacon open face sandwich from Outerlands in Outer Sunset. Really long wait for a casual Friday lunch, but they really satisfied my cheese and egg craving! The bread was also really thick and toasted perfectly.

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The fried egg sandwich (do you notice a trend here?) from Plow with crispy potatoes. Oh those crispy potatoes were almost like potato chips in cube form but with better seasoning and more substance. Delicious! The fried egg sandwich was tasty, though a little greasy since I added bacon. I also tried my friend’s lemon ricotta pancakes which I LOVED but I also do love anything lemon flavored.

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The monkey bread from Plow is also a must-try!

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Two scoops of ice cream (balsamic caramel and brown butter) from Humphry Slocombe in the Mission for a post breakfast snack. Balsamic caramel sounds pretty interesting and is definitely an acquired taste for most but I loved it since I’m a fan of tangy, sour and sweet! Brown butter is the ice cream flavor I wish I invented and is probably one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors, though I wish there was some crunch in there for texture.

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If you’re in the Mission district in SF and feel like eating Mexican food that’s slightly healthier, go to Papalote where the lines are shorter and the food is definitely less greasy. The chili verde taco is wonderful and it comes with plenty of fresh goodies!

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The crawfish beignet from Brenda’s French Soul Food is definitely worth waking up at 7 am on a Monday for.

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So is their shrimp and cheese grits! A little heavy for breakfast, but I mean, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day right? Brenda’s will surely fulfill that!

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Oh Ici, what a love-hate relationship we have. Love because it MAY be my favorite ice cream place in the Bay Area and this malted vanilla chocolate chip totally validates that statement. Their ice cream is just so light and good! It’s also probably the only place where I’ll even consider getting a cone because of the little chocolate surprise on the bottom of each one! Hate because going 5 days a week during undergrad really didn’t do my wallet any good.

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Ah, Salumeria – a fun discovery in the Mission! Their roast beef sandwich is delicious and they have a wonderful seating area with great lighting, perfect for instagramming and food photographing ;)

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Of course, every meal needs dessert! Not just one, but three! (I guess four if you count the scoop of Bi-Rite ice cream that I’m not picturing in this post). No trip to SF is complete without a Tartine visit. I was so tempted to get the Lemon Meringue Cake, but opted for a morning bun and banana cream tart instead! I do wish I got a slice of Tres Leches and I totally would’ve if I didn’t also buy a caramel chocolate mini loaf from Craftsman & Wolves that was sort of forgettable. Cool store concept though!

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What better way to end my SF trip than with some duck on a bed of farro from Olea in Nob Hill? Chef Gabriel Amaya is truly talented and kind as well!

Looking at these pictures reminds me of what an amazing 10 days I had in NorCal. I’m truly blessed to able to enjoy such good food with even better friends! Thank you all for a wonderful trip!