You may recall a not-so-great restaurant review I wrote last year about the then-tiny and cramped State Bird Provisions. Admittedly, I was so disappointed that I found it incredibly hard to believe that people wait in line for 3 hours for such a place and never gave it a second chance.
But when a coworker gave me her reservation for a late Sunday night dinner, I decided that round 2 was in order and off I ate.
In the second half of last year, State Bird closed to remodel and essentially doubled the size of the space. The renovation has served it well; more diners can be seated and servers can wheel their food carts around with much more ease (and just as much borderline pushiness) as before.
The best way to dine here is to come in a group of at least four people so you have an ample opportunity to eat from the menu and the food carts. A good strategy is to divide and conquer – try a few dishes from the menu and intersperse it with cart items that strike your eye. Portion sizes aren’t huge, but with a larger group, even a few bites of 11-12 items (which is what our dinner consisted of), will leave you very full.
Menu Highlights: The smoked sturgeon pancake is a staple on the menu for good reason. I loved it the first time I ate here and loved it now with the horseradish kick and beets. The oysters were delicious as well, topped with spicy kohlrabi and sesame.
Cart Highlights: The Hamachi, avocado, and seaweed was so good that we ordered two of them – the quality of the Hamachi rivals any Japanese restaurant I have ever eaten at! While I didn’t eat the ribs, my friends had great things to say about it.
Desserts: When you eat with me, you eat the entire dessert menu, because that’s how I ultimately decide how much I like a restaurant. The coffee toffee ice cream sandwiches were fantastic – not too frozen but not too melted either, a tough thing to achieve with sandwiches. The buckwheat bao with carrot jam and coconut cream is proof of pastry chef Nicole Krasinski’s talent – it’s the most original and delicious dessert I’ve eaten in a long time.
While there are a few shortcomings – the servers are a little too pushy, and even with a reservation we had to wait an additional 20 minutes – I stand corrected from my original review. The revamped State Bird Provisions is worth a visit, but only with reservations and a hungry group of diners.
American dim sum.
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore Street (at Geary)
Open for dinner
Reservations not required, but highly recommended