Eating the California State bird? Isn’t that illegal? You’re not even allowed to pick the state’s poppy flower, are you? Technically, neither action is against the law, but there is something so wrong about consuming your home state bird. Yet, at San Francisco‘s State Bird Provisions, there is also something so deliciously right.
There are only a few states in America where the state bird is edible, the California quail being one of them. Lucky me.
State Bird Provisions is a dim sum style restaurant in Northern California that each evening serves 12-15 creative plates that servers peddle on push carts and trays.
It is extremely hard to score reservations at this Michelin starred restaurant, though they do save a portion of seating for walk-ins. It was a Sunday and the day of a huge 49ers game, so we decided it was the perfect day to take our chances. We arrived at 4:50, they opened at 5:30, and we were numbers 24 and 25 in line. By 5:15 there were a few dozen people behind us. Apparently, not everyone watches football.
There was no sign on the restaurant, so for all we know we were waiting in line for the Apple store. Luckily, a peek in the window showed signs of deliciousness; fresh baked chips, roasted tomatoes and busy line cooks.
At 5:25 a man came out asking if anyone in line had reservations. Nope. Then, at exactly 5:30, the doors opened and people piled in. The line was moving quickly and we had high hopes of getting in for dinner in the first round, until we were stopped right before reaching the front counter. The sweet hostess told us that they would have something available at about 7:15, over an hour and a half later. After reading the reviews, I actually considered this a success. Besides, we were in San Francisco and on Fillmore street, there had to be a place to get a glass of wine.
We took a walk and passed by the Boom Boom Room, peeking in at the darkly lit bar. Not an option for date night. There will be no boom boom before dinner. Instead we got beverages at the Wine Jar just a few blocks away, while we patiently waited for the coveted call.
At 6:33 the phone rang and the hostess Katie was on the other line, I didn’t even give her a chance to speak before blurting out that we’d be there in 5 minutes. I didn’t even know I could down a glass of wine so fast.
We were sat at the chef’s counter, the perfect place for two restaurateurs. And that’s when the welcomed chaos began. Nurmerous staff walked around with carts and trays advertising their dishes. Eat had a placard with the price of that particular item.
We were an easy sell. We bought the first three items that came around.
It all started with the Crispy Nori, Raw Hamachi, Black Garlic & an Avocado Purée ($9), Wild Mushroom & Farro with Ricotta ($8) and Garlic Bread with Burrata Cheese ($8).
There wasn’t a bad dish in the bunch.
But, we quickly learned that you must not be submissive. Servers come around every couple of minutes showing off their goods and if you don’t say no sometimes you will end up eating your entire me in ten minutes. We attempted to pace ourselves a little better after round one.
And then wave two came…
Brussel Sprouts with Bonito Flakes ($5), Pork Belly with a Vietnamese Vinaigrette, Jalapeños and Grapes topped with Whole Cilantro ($10) and Guinea Hen Dumplings with an Aromatic Broth ($3).
This pacing thing is not really working.
I am a complete sucker for any dish that contains brussel sprouts and this one was more unique than the typical “Bacon & Brussels” dish. The mild fish flavor of the bonito flakes complemented the vegetable nicely.
The last savory item we ordered was from their petite regular menu. It was the CA State Bird with Provisions ($8/half order). Could their be a more perfect place to eat the California state bird than at an eatery with the same name?
The bird was deep-fried in a buttermilk batter. The crust was crunchy and the meat was tender. Perfect.
After licking my fingers clean, another staff member came by to inform us that they can do half desserts. This idea is music to my ears.
We happily indulged in the Genmaicha Ice Cream Sandwich, Yogurt & Walnuts and the Chocolate Roll Cake, Sesame Mousse, Seville Orange-Clove Caramel.
There is no dessert photo. We ate it all way too fast. Pigs.
9 provisions later we walked away from this bucket list worthy meal telling everyone still in line that it is completely worth the wait.
Even if eating the California state bird is not one for your bucket list, the dining experience at State Bird Provisions could also get checked off under these life list goals:
- Eat a Dim Sum Style Meal
- Eat at a Michelin Starred Restaurant
- Sit at a Chef’s Counter
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