Northside SF
The Tablehopper
The Fillmore restaurant scene keeps on booming

The local culinary scene is buzzing over the upcoming restaurant project, State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore Street), from Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, the beloved and talented culinary team behind the now-shuttered (and still-missed) Rubicon. They are opening their highly unique concept in a long-vacant space that flanks the back of The Fillmore.

Anyone who fondly remembers the cuisine at Rubicon will recall Brioza’s and Krasinski’s flavors spanning a variety of regions, from France to America to Spain to Japan, and utilizing beautifully sourced and highly seasonal ingredients. Well, get ready to experience them in an entirely new way: instead of ordering off a menu, an array of dishes will be delivered to your table via cart and tray. For starters, imagine a server presenting your table with a tray of Brioza’s famed crispy-spiced quail (which incidentally inspired the name of the restaurant), and you can select as many as you want. Later, a cart will wheel up with another selection of dishes fresh from the kitchen, like a geoduck clam and potato salad, or perhaps chicken hearts and salsa verde. If you are pining for another round of a particular dish, say, the cecina of beef top round with spicy eggplant, or the milk pudding dessert with satsuma and shaved Deglet Noor dates, a server will relay the request to the kitchen. The plan is to offer upward of 40 different dishes, which will constantly shift based on the whims of the kitchen.

The experience will feel a bit dim-sum-like, with a touch of a tapas, izakaya, and hors d’oeuvre spirit. A few larger plates will be available each night, with a tight-printed menu listing a few consistent items, like salads. Dishes will range from $2–$15, with the larger plates costing a bit more. It’s a fun concept Brioza and Krasinski have had in the back of their minds since they first met, and this space presented them the perfect opportunity to bring it to life.

Open nightly from 5 p.m. to midnight, the pace is designed to be quick and engaging, so whether you are swinging by for a bite before or after a show you can scale your meal accordingly. There will be about eight beer selections (draft and bottled), and 10 or so well-chosen wines at $40 or less. A lot of us are looking forward to November, the current targeted opening date.

Over in North Beach, the Basque-inspired Txoko (504 Broadway Street, 415-500-2744) is now open in the former Enrico’s for dinner nightly at 5 p.m. Chef Ian Begg’s menu includes a variety of small bites (pintxos), like oysters, fava bean cuscurro (crostino) and a Roncal cheese croqueta ($3–$7); slightly larger small plates include crispy Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crab with piquillo pepper purée, bacon, spring onions, and herbs ($15); crispy sweetbreads ($10); and grilled octopus with potato pearls, sea beans, ramps, and truffle foam ($8). Bigger plates include oven-roasted suckling pig with späetzle, Madeira, yam puree, and mustard greens ($32). There is also a cheese selection, and dessert includes gâteau Basque ($6) and foie gras ice cream ($8).

The kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m. and the bar until 2 a.m. General manager-owner Ryan Maxey (former Cafe Majestic sommelier where he worked alongside Begg) has dedicated 80 percent of the wine list to Iberian wines. The cocktail menu by bar manager Jason Brown (Kokkari, Michael Mina) includes a Picon punch (Brinba Picon, grenadine, Torres brandy, soda water).

There is a communal table and a spacious bar area, plus both indoor and outdoor seating (45 and 35 seats, respectively) – yup, they opened just in time for a season of full patio enjoyment.

Over on Washington Square, Tony Gemignani at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana (1570 Stockton Street, 415-835-9888) has added some intriguing new items, including a gluten-free pizza, which he has been perfecting for nine months. It is cooked in its own dedicated gas oven, with its own counter and chef to avoid contamination. Yeah, that’s dedicated. Gemignani has also started offering a Detroit-style pizza, which is a “red top” pizza cooked in blue steel Detroit pans with brick mozzarella, white cheddar, tomato sauce racing stripes, and garlic-butter-toasted edges. Vroom. Then there’s the Fear & Loathing pizza, topped with slow-cooked pulled pork in tamarind, serrano and habanero peppers, citrus, tomato, mozzarella, fresh cactus and agave salsa, and queso fresco.

Another addition to the lunch scene: The Tipsy Pig (2231 Chestnut Street, 415-292-2300) in the Marina is now open Wednesday–Friday at 11:30 a.m. The patio is a perfect spot to dine on a fried chicken sandwich or a Niçoise salad.

And because we started with Fillmore news, let’s end with some as well: you can now find Sunday brunch at Baker & Banker (1701 Octavia Street, 415-351-2500), from 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Brunch items include Lucky Dog Farm brisket hash, poached farm eggs, romesco sauce, and pickled ramps; French toast bread pudding, maple and bourbon glazed bananas, whipped crème fraîche, and pecan praline; and Eggs in Purgatory, with spicy tomato sauce, mascarpone-brown-butter polenta, and house-made Italian sausage. House-baked treats include pineapple fritters with mango-Champagne sauce and sticky buns. Reservations accepted. (I am always a fan of brunch reservations.)

E-mail hot tips to

Bookmark and Share Print Page PDF
The Tablehopper Column Archive