So hot right now.
Yet before receiving the title of Bon Appetite’s number one new restaurant of the year, SBP hosted a few friends of mine and me on a random Wednesday evening.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, SBP offers two “sections” of their menu. The first consists of a few items listed on the physical menu itself. The second is an ever-rotating array of “provisions” which are rolled around on carts, dim sum style, for your sensory pleasure.
As the four of us saw the portions passed around, we knew the dishes would provide each of us with about a bite each, with some left to spare. So, we decided that every person would have a designated number of “Dick Moves” to use (aka kill off a dish), so that things would even out quantitatively.
With the rules in place: off we went!
Perusing the menu, we decided to go for two staples: the “Cumin Lamb with Scallions, Figs & Zucchini,” and the “CA State Bird with Provisions.” After all, how can you not order a namesake item?
Despite being teased by other items on the page, we found ourselves saying yes to items circulating the room that would ordinarily not even elicit a blink from any member of the table.
Because they looked and smelled incredible.
For example, the “Calabrian Spiced Tofu, Cucumber, Mint and Fava Hummus” would normally do nothing for me, but as the aromas wafted our way, we were entranced to have our temptress of a waitress set it down in front of us. Not as spicy as anticipated, the Italian-inspired tomato sauce lightly coated the silky chunks of soy that melted away in my mouth before crunching into a snappy cucumber.
Two other lighter, vegetarian dishes were the “Marinated Vegetable Egg Salad, Nuts & Seeds,” with a strong sesame presence, and the “Beets & Rosemary Nectarine with Goat Cheese,” which found sweet stone fruit resting over a pool of creamy, rich, liquid goat cheese that acted almost as a savory sauce to balance the sugars.
Dan used his "Dick Move" for that one.
The pork fried farro was SBP's take on the Korean bibimbop. While the presentation was beautifully segmented, we were advised to crack the soft egg and mix the entire bowl's contents to create a creamy, dreamy, steamy plate of differing textures and flavors.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the "Guinea Hen Dumplings with Aromatic Broth," and I'm almost glad it came as such a surprise.
If I had to draw the line somewhere as to a highlight of the night, it would have to be the "Duck Liver Mousse with Almond Biscuits." The mousse itself was so light, so airy, so fluffy; it was akin eating a rich cloud from heaven. Yet when it topped biscuits, which were closer to mini almond muffins, it formed an incredibly unexpected elegant, decadent, sweet/savory cupcake.
However, the "Sweet Corn-Coconut Cake, Blueberries, and Buttermilk Cream," along with four "World Peace Shots," did. Whole kernels of corn and flakes of coconut were studded inside the warm, griddled cake, and topped with whole chunks of fruit and freshly whipped buttermilk. As for the shots: they were thick, creamy tiny peanut butter milkshakes - straightforward and delicious.
Not with each other.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
A playful place where you and your significant other can explore a bevy of flavors and textures, old and new, executed perfectly, without fear of making a potentially disastrous decision that could ruin your entire meal. Disagree on a accepting a dish when it comes around?
Talk about it! Laugh about it! Find out a little bit more about it, and a little bit more about the person with whom you're sitting.
I appreciate restaurants that open my palate to concepts that would otherwise have zero appeal to me, and State Bird fits that bill. And the manner in which they do it is so enticing – upfront, before your eyes, no guessing games as to what will arrive before you, makes the entire experience all the more complete. With a range of influences from around the world and a revolving set of offerings, you can have a unique visit every time you walk through the door.
That is, if you can make it through the line that is sure to grow longer thanks to their continued, highly-publicized success.