Restaurant Review – State Bird Provisions

I like the idea that the chefs changes his or her menu regularly, subject to the freshest produce available, as opposed to churning out a standard menu regardless of the quality of the ingredients. It seems so simple and logical, yet this idea or mantra has only taken hold in recent years proper. Many restaurants in San Francisco seem to embrace this philosophy, and State Bird Provisions is no exception.

It has came into existence since 2011 and had already secured their first Michelin star, which is pretty uncanny. Online reservations were an absolutely bitch, but I managed to snagged one eventually. It’s a likely fallacy that the tougher the reservations are, the better the restaurant might be. But I’ve got to say I’m still feeling pretty excited!

The menu is definitely intriguing, and not the run of the mill stuff that one might gobble up. The concept is kinda like a dim sum of sorts, with servers pushing about carts of various freshly made plates of delicious, often quite unique dishes. In addition to that, diners can order other courses e.g. “commandables” such as their signature CA state bird provisions, desserts, etc.

Provisions Cart

One of our favourite plates were some sort of salmon tartare with sesame seeds, seaweed, and pickles. The textures were a good mix of crunchy and soft, and flavours were well balanced.


The pork belly with peaches, mint, and chillies was decent, but not as exciting as I hoped it might be.

Pork belly
Pork belly with peaches

Next, was the guinea hen dumpling with aromatic broth which was pretty tasty.

Guinea hen dumpling with aromatic broth
Guinea hen dumpling with aromatic broth

The signature dish that’s one of few mainstays is the CA state bird provisions, which is a wonderfully crisp, deep fried quail. Being a pretty small bird, cooking it is quite tricky as one might easily overcook the bird. But the chefs did a really good job with it, keeping the interior nicely moist.

Fried Quail
CA State Bird Provisions

The next dish was quite interesting, and strangely reminiscent of braised herbal duck that one might get back home. Not something that I might typically expect in San Francisco, but I must say it was delicious.

Braised herbal duck with pickled cucumbers

What came next was also a pretty bizarre dish of bacon curry with crispy beef sweetbreads and pickled squash. A decent offering, but the sweetbreads could have definitely been more crispy.

Bacon curry with crispy beef sweetbreads & pickled squash

In a string of oddities, we had the Don Watson’s lamb with cumin, squid, summer peppers & grapes. A rather odd combination, but the ingredients were well cooked, and it was rather flavourful. Not exactly a marriage made in heaven, but it sort of worked.

don watson's lamb with cumin, squid, summer peppers and grapes
don watson’s lamb with cumin, squid, summer peppers and grapes

Overall, we had another fun meal. The menu was quite ambitious with a myriad of flavours that are quite bizarre but tasty. The balance of flavours and the freshness of the ingredients were apparent, but otherwise there weren’t many dishes that were absolutely brilliant i.e. I would come back just for this dish. Consistency is definitely a challenge with a menu of this complexity.

Wouldn’t mind coming back just to see what’s cooking, but hopefully the reservations would be less of a pain by then.

Location: 1529 Fillmore St. (Between Geary & O’Farrell St.) San Francisco. +1 415 795 1272. Website.


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