SF Eats: State Bird Provisions

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!

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!)

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!

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

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:
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:
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!
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!


Ratatouille a la Remy and Baked Eggs

Task me to cook dinner and I will make you my favorite chef’s prime creation, Ratatouille (and baked eggs for extra protein)! That chef is of course none other than Remy, a fictional rat from my favorite Pixar movie, Ratatouille.

In the movie, Remy is asked to cook for a famous food critic and out of all the fancy French dishes he is capable of making, he chooses to make Ratatouille…but in his own style! I don’t know too much about French cooking, but I do believe that Ratatouille is traditionally made in a pot, like a vegetable stew. In the movie, Remy slices the vegetables thinly and roasts it in the oven with some herbs and tops it with a sauce. The first time I wanted to recreate the dish, I found this New York times recipe that was supposedly conceptualized by the man/lady who made recipes for the movie. I tried making it during college and it wasn’t too difficult, though it was rather time consuming. This time around I wanted to try a simpler version so I used Smitten Kitchen’s version, which was much easier but still incredibly delicious!

The main ingredients are very simple and easy to find. Some vegetables and a sprig of thyme is all you need! I substituted tomato paste mixed with water and a little tomato sauce for tomato puree because I already had them in my pantry. They worked just fine!

The key to this recipe is to acquire and utilize a mandoline. Chopping these vegetables thinly is not very fun if you don’t have a sharp knife and above average knife skills. Don’t get too caught up on arranging the vegetables perfectly (I know I did the first time). Just make sure to alternate between each vegetable. Make sure you use salt and pepper generously!

I served the Ratatouille on a bed of whole wheat couscous that I purchased from Trader Joe’s. It’s very easy to cook and pairs well with the Ratatouille. Do listen to Smitten Kitchen and top it with goat cheese. It works really well with it!

I was brainstorming protein dishes that I thought would complement the Ratatouille well without taking the spotlight away from it and figured I should stay away from meat and go for eggs! To jazz my eggs up a little, I decided to bake them. All I used were:

– grated parmesan cheese
– sliced up ham/prosciutto/bacon/pancetta
– fresh parsley (sliced very small)
– fresh thyme (sliced very small)
– eggs, of course
– salt & pepper
– cute little ramekins to bake them in!

It was very easy to make. Simply crack the eggs and place them in the ramekin. Top it with the cheese, fresh herbs, sliced up meat and sprinkle some salt and pepper. I held off a bit on the salt because I knew that the cheese and meat would add saltiness to it. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees (same temperature as the Ratatouille) for about 10-12 minutes for a runny egg (which I love!). The deeper the ramekin, the longer it takes to cook and since mine were pretty shallow, they were done in 10 minutes.

Voila! Delicious and sophisticated baked eggs that can be served during any meal. Doesn’t that soft, bright yellow yoke just make you hungry?

This dinner was good for 3 people with a very small amount of Ratatouille leftover, which I then scrambled with some eggs the next morning for breakfast and topped with goat cheese!
I ate it with a crispy whole wheat toast. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast. Two great and pretty healthy meals from one dish. Success! Thanks Remy and Smitten Kitchen!