10/17/2012 12:00:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Sweetbread Polpette With Blackened Figs at State Bird Provisions

Choosing a favorite dish at State Bird Provisions, the imaginative New American small plates newcomer in the Western Addition from husband-and-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, is a near impossible task; the dizzying parade of tantalizing “provisions” (a.k.a. off-the-menu small plates) that gets ferried past on carts and platters, along with the “commandables” (the nightly printed dishes that you request from the kitchen) and dedicated “pancake” section is enough to make your make your head spin, each one better tasting than the last. This concept of the “heavy appetizer dinner party” is one of the reasons that this low-key snug spot in an unlikely neighborhood has developed a near-cult following in just 10 months.

Determined to try as much as we could, we started off well enough with a smashing guinea hen ravioli doused tableside with an aromatic broth, followed by a litany of deliciousness - meltingly tender braised beef oxtail in curry, rich duck liver mousse with almond biscuits, fried pork belly with tofu and kimchi, sweet corn and garlic chive short stack, albacore crudo with quinoa and bonito-rosemary aioli, and of course, the signature crispy California State Bird. 

But the piece de resistance were the sweetbread polpette. The meatballs are a riff off the polpette served at Piccino (where the couple filled in for a while), but Brioza takes the Italian classic one step further (many steps further, actually) by deep-frying tiny nuggets of sweetbreads, then mixing them into a mixture of pork, beef and bread, then lightly frying the whole shebang and serving them over a bed of blackened figs which provides a welcome sweet, tangy counterpoint to the richness of the meat. At $6 for two, these provisions are a testament to the mad genius going on that open kitchen. Desserts are equally enchanting. Little wonder the restaurant racks up one- to three-hour waits nightly.

1529 Fillmore St.; 415-795-1272

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