Approaching SFO

We could have happily stayed a day in the cottage on the ranch, but duty called, more food and bakeries to research over the big red bridge down the line. But first breakfast back at Della Fattoria café.

A fine caffeine fix to start the day and juicy fresh peaches with ricotta, pecans and maple on fresh corn bread. The sprinkle of sea salt was the final perfect touch.

Squash
Squash

A stop at the Farmer’s Market in San Rafael where many San Francisco area chefs go to buy their day’s produce. Phrase of the moment “so this is what strawberries are meant to taste like!” (or insert peaches, nectarines, raspberries, plums…you get the picture). Shame we can’t bring some Californian sun back in our luggage.

Tartine
Tartine

Wouldn’t you guess, road works just before the golden gate, but at least it meant they didn’t charge the normal toll. Checked into our Air BnB airy loft space in the Mission, a rundown on the local scene by our host and off to see what we could find for afternoon tea. Tartine, Craftsman and Wolves and Dandelion Chocolatiers all within two blocks! But no time to stop for long we had a dinner to queue for!

State Bird pass and bar
State Bird pass and bar

The maitre’d at The French Laundry had said we MUST go to State Bird for dinner. And we MUST be there by 4.30pm at the latest for the 5.30pm opening for walk-in dining. Reservations weren’t an option, they are booked up 8 weeks ahead, but keep a third of tables free for the 5.30pm walk-ins. We were late….40+ in front of us at 4.50pm….told the wait would be 9.30pm…pulled the ‘chef from NZ’ card….round the corner to the Fat Angel for a glass of wine an extremely good sheet of flatbread grilled with gorgonzola, pecans, prosciutto and honey roasted grapes…..40 minutes later a phone call…”Yes we’ll be there in 3 minutes”…..chef’s card success!

A seat on the bar right beside the pass and a complimentary glass of Prosecco and the fun began….

If you ever have the chance, this is a place to go for the shear dining experience with a difference. Outside in the queue we were wondering what all the fuss could be about. What was it about this place that people queued for, for hours. A couple we sat next to had missed out the day before, so she had returned and set herself a posi on the pavement at 4pm.

A seat on the bar beside the pass is a dangerous thing here. Stuart, chef owner and his wife Nicole the pastry chef have recognised the extent to which people feast with their eyes. At State Bird you get a menu on a wooden board with a few items on each course. But at the bottom of the menu is a numbered table with blank boxes.

Pork Belly
Pork Belly

It’s a yum cha sort of thing with a sort of Californian/Asian fusion of ingredients, the numbers representing the cost of the little dishes that are constantly coming across the pass to be carried around the restaurant on trays tempting diners. The problem with sitting right there at the bar beside the pass is that you get first option…and it just keeps coming…11 dashes later plus a few menu items and a few complementaries we were well and truly done, even ‘she’ beyond her normally restrained state of ‘elegant sufficiency.’

We are glad we queued, and pulled the chef’s card and many thanks to chef/owner Stuart and his crew who were so accommodating and hospitable.

So if you get the chance, GO!

Zuni vanilla buttermilk pannacotta w/ huckleberries
Zuni vanilla buttermilk pannacotta w/ huckleberries

A post prandial walk was in order. 5 miles and a tram ride through Chinatown later, after passing quickly through the seedier stretch of Market Road we reached Zuni Café. A San Francisco landmark, its history and chefs with links like so many to Chez Panisse. We could only stop for a nightcap….and maybe share another dessert…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.