Yesterday I described a mini-drama in my head when I was choosing, on Wednesday, between the fried potato bread with fried chicken and something healthier at Bar Tartine. I went with something healthier and kind of regretted it.
So yesterday (Thursday), I went back with Kate from Serious Eats and we tackled the fried potato bread with fried chicken on top. You can see it in the above photo. I see that picture and think to myself, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I ate that.”
Essentially it’s something fried on top of something fried. The good news is that the fried chicken isn’t Southern fried chicken, it’s more Japanese style fried chicken. There isn’t a whole lot of it. So it’s mostly fried bread that you’re eating with a little bit of fried chicken pieces and then cabbage, red onion, a fried egg and a slightly sweet sauce.
I enjoyed it though I think I would’ve liked it better if the bread and chicken came straight out of the fryer on to your plate. Instead, it had the taste of something that had been fried earlier and kept warm in an oven.
I much preferred the fried eggplant sandwich that we also shared (I ate a lot of fried food yesterday!):
The bread, as you’d expect at Tartine, was wonderful. And the eggplant was wonderfully balanced with yogurt and roasted peppers and lots of other pick-me-ups. It’s a great sandwich.
Let’s not even mention the fact that we followed all that fried food with a cheesecake; but Vinny, who works there, sent one over and we couldn’t say “no.”
What I liked so much about that cheesecake is that it’s not really too sweet at all. It’s created with house-made fromage blanc and paired with a berry sauce that was surprisingly bitter. I really dug it.
Yesterday afternoon, I visited Chow headquarters and did an interview and a photo shoot (a photo shoot!) that will appear on their site sometime soon.
Then it was time for dinner… I walked from my hotel over to State Bird Provisions, one of San Francisco’s hotter restaurants at the moment.
There’s no way I would’ve gotten in on my own; lucky for me, I was meeting up with @ChezPim who not only scored us seats at the bar, but brought me a gift of her world famous, Anthony Bourdain/Nigella Lawson-Tweeted jam.
I loved the vibe at the bar at State Provisions: that’s the place to sit. You can watch the cooks cooking…see:
And the food that they make is nothing short of extraordinary. I can’t believe I ate so much of it.
It starts with a cart that they roll past you; you can take what you want (almost like conveyor belt sushi):
Pim did the selecting and we had some tofu skin (I forget what that’s called) and an incredible deviled egg with raw fish underneath it. Sorry for the blurry photo.
Then more food started coming. This dish of fried eggplant was so impressive, I studied it really carefully to figure out how they breaded it and fried it so perfectly:
The only thing I took away from my studies is that they left the skin side un-breaded.
These dumplings were filled with ground up guinea hen and served in a cooling, refreshing broth:
Then there was this cast iron pot that had pork belly and tofu:
Meatballs–or polpettone–made with sweetbreads on a fig jam:
And then my favorite dish of the night, a pancake (modeled on a Korean pancake) with shrimp, pork belly and glazed in a soy lime sauce:
I told Nicole (one of the owners) that it was probably the best thing I’d eaten all year. Seriously, I won’t stop thinking about it.
We had to have the state bird at State Bird Provisions—that’s fried quail with shaved Parmesan on top:
Then there was this dish of yuba “tagliatelle” with matsutake and nori:
It kind of went over my head, though when I mixed everything around I kind of enjoyed it.
The cumin lamb was like a healthier, more conscientious version of a similar dish I’ve had at Chinese restaurants:
And finally: dessert.
Nicole makes the desserts at State Bird Provisions and they’re all wonderful. The best part of this ice cream sandwich is that she spreads a layer of plum jam inside of it:
Such a good idea.
And this granita on top of tapioca was the most refreshing thing I could imagine eating sitting next to a hot kitchen:
And so it was that our dinner ended at State Bird Provisions.
As far as days go, on a day that starts with fried potato bread and ends with an ice cream sandwich, you know you’ve done well. Thank you, San Francisco, for making me fatter in the best possible way.