I don’t know if we’ve ever made such a late dinner reservation, but 10:15pm on our last night in California was the only time available at State Bird Provisions. After reading Bon Appétit proclaim this place to be the #1 Best New Restaurant just a few weeks prior, we were going to take what we could get! Maybe it was actually a good way to ease back onto East Coast time.
I have never felt so welcomed at a restaurant. We were a few minutes early, and the table wasn’t quite ready yet. We stood in the front corridor by the door, with the bar to our right and the open kitchen right in front of our eyes. We must have been asked six or seven times during our ten-minute wait if we needed anything. We decided on some drinks to sip as our elbows rested on the kitchen’s edge, and it was actually Nicole Krasinski who took our order and brought back our beverages! Nicole is the pastry chef owner, along with her husband, Chef Stuart Brioza. This was hospitality at its best.
The interior look of the restaurant was a treat in and of itself. Every wall and corner had its own quirky style. It was very Anthropologie in the overall feel; in fact, the whole wait staff dressed in casual, vintage clothing.
State Birds Provisions operates “dim sum style.” There is an a la carte menu, consisting of a few staple dishes along with their savory pancake selection. This menu includes their namesake piece: the quail! Naturally, we knew we had to try California’s bird, and we also went for some Sweet Corn and Garlic Chive “Shortstack” pancakes to start.
As I mentioned though, most of the dishes are not on this menu; they actually are served on a rolling cart that travels around the restaurant once a batch is ready to go. The waiter brings this cart by, or carries over a tray, and asks if you want the dish that you see. This process took some getting used to for me, the indecisive orderer! You have to be quick to say “yes” and also ready to say “no,” because after all, you’re not going to be able to eat everything that comes by.
Although, we did try. Our small plate selection included the Guinea Hen Dumplings with Aromatic Broth, the Haas Avocado with Seafood ‘Salsa,’ 2 Oysters on the Half Shell, the Marvel Stripe Tomato with Sweet Corn and Smoked Salmon, and finally, the incredible Garlic Bread with Burrata.
Midway through our ordering, the cart service ended because of the time of night. To our delight, our waitress brought over the “provisions” menu, so that we could see everything that was offered on the cart that evening and make any additional selections. I felt so lucky to be able to get a full glimpse into these dishes!
After this was all said and done, we felt compelled to order dessert and went with a perfect, lighter option: The ‘World Peace’ Peanut Muscovado Milk. This is a shot of sweet peanut milk that must be what a Butterfinger candy bar would taste like as a beverage. Bon Appétit actually shared their recipe here, so we can all experience a taste of State Birds no matter where we are. We were certainly grateful to have a chance to try out this special place, and hope it will not be the last time!