With State Bird Provisions’ earned Michelin star, stratospheric popularity, menu of unique dishes, and reviews proclaiming it to be “the most innovative restaurant” in the country, a sequel to the successful restaurant was a surety. Nearly two months ago and three years since the opening of State Bird Provisions, chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski launched its sequel named The Progress. Located beside State Bird Provisions, the new restaurant promises a fine dining culinary adventure with a different menu format than its older sister restaurant. With a penchant towards bold creative menus, we recently set out to explore this new establishment and identify whether it can rise above the coattails of its more popular sibling.
Interior / Exterior / Ambiance
As he walked away, we began to read over the restaurant’s menu, which happened to look more like the notes of a brain storming session involving knowledgable chefs than a final honed menu. Most plates were described without name but with the list of their containing ingredients, which hinted to the chef’s own struggles trying to identify what they had created. There were separations between groups of items but no labels on what each group represented. Were these appetizers or entrees? We wondered. Terminology such as calling an ingredient “Mt. Tam” did not help in aiding our understanding. Regardless of our misgivings, we checked six items with our pencil and handed the menu over to our prompt and studious waiter.
Wild Cat Cocktail (rhum agricole, falernum, lemon, orange, house grenadine, absinthe)
Yuzu and olio nuovo, marinated raw tuna, watermelon radish
Curry chicken ‘karaage’
Porcini and Mt. Tam Dumpling with Nettle Salsa Verde
Lamb merguez with yellow eye beans, octopus and crispy squid
Treasure Chest of fermented sausage, trout quenelles and pumpkin-rice dumpling in a ‘creamy’ pork broth
Grilled BN ranch beef with mustard-miso sauce
Bitter cocoa sorbet, lemon curd floating island, slivered walnuts
Individually, the lemon curd tasted fresh and light while the sorbet exhibited deep yet balanced cocoa flavors. Unfortunately, since the cocoa lingered on the palate, it was difficult to enjoy the delicate curd and meringue qualities once the sorbet was sampled. Perhaps, instead of the sorbet, a fresh biscuit or similar item would have better complemented the lemon curd.
We also think that the pricing scheme where by each participant pays a flat $65 for six shared plates is difficult to manage, hard to keep consistent, and lacking in value to the patron. Quantifying the amount of food per plate for different number of people is subjective to the individual cook especially when customers choose varying proportions of meat based entrees, lighter appetizer style dishes, and desserts.
With the final bill cresting near $200 including tip, our two person dining experience felt not worth the price. Passion is an important aspect for the finest restaurants. The passion to create a focused dish that represents more than the sum of its parts is a creative skillful art. As we have in the past, we would gladly pay a premium for that passion. And since our search for passion in each dish always came up empty, we felt somewhat cheated out of our money on a restaurant struggling to understand its purpose.