On Wednesday night, I made my way to State Bird Provisions, the quirky restaurant opened by married-couple Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. The sliver of a space is located on the part of Fillmore Street not far from Yoshi's—the one the city is trying so hard to spruce up. Hapa Ramen is set to come in along here too. Still, gentrification alarmists can celebrate the fact that this stretch of town still offers plenty of funk. The first time I dined here, on the way out, some drunk guy tossed a beer bottle at me—gently, I might add—and missed.
State Bird is clearly a meeting of two minds that think very much alike. I guess that's what happens when you've been together since you were in college, plus spent five years in the kitchen of Rubicon racking up accolades before the Financial District restaurant closed.
Brioza does the savory. Krasinski does the pastry. And their sensibility leans towards an oddball, global use of ingredients that often come together to be delicious is a way you couldn't have imagined.
Barring a few shared plates on the menu, the service is done by cart and tray, kind of like dim sum but nothing like dim sum too. It's a really whimsical and fun idea, but I'm not sure it does the good food any favors. You barely get to relish what's in front of you before something else comes along. But I also know that Brioza and Krasinski are still feeling this whole service concept out.
I don't want to be the spoiler for the article that will be running in the 7x7 March issue, but let me tell you a few things not to miss here: Potato chips with orange pearls of salmon roe sitting atop creme fraiche and horseradish. (I'm going to transfer this simple yet genius idea to my next dinner party and drink lots of Champagne with it.) The beef-tongue pastrami sandwich with warm bone marrow vinaigrette is another must. There are only six desserts, and they're all small in size. If you have enough people to try them all, I recommend it. The buckwheat bao with lime cloud cream and huckleberry is addictive. Thanks to Krasinski (and not just that guy at KK Cafe on Divisadero Street), peanut milk is going to be the next new thing. Inquire within.
On the home cooking front, yesterday while in Oakland, I rediscovered my love for Arizmendi's wolvarine rolls, studded with dried cherries, apricots, golden raisins and walnuts. I used to get them years ago, and I'm going to be headed to the Valencia Street location to rekindle that relationship. I also got a loaf of their corn-oat molasses bread (which in SF is only available on Fridays at their Irving Street location). It's kind of what I consider a hippy bread. It's not Frenchy or chewy or sour. It's just homey and gets crisp in just the right way. For breakfast this morning, I sliced it thick, toasted it, spread on plenty of butter and then topped with chestnut honey from Boulettes Larder. With a little bowl of sliced orange and a cup of Ritual Roasters coffee, my morning was pretty sweet.