For our final dinner of the trip, while looking for options (since most of the recommendations by the FTC’ers were booked), we ended up at The Progress, the restaurant project by Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski,post-State Bird Provisions (and it is literally right next door to State Bird Provisions as well).
We had actually wanted to try State Bird Provisions (thanks for the rec @PorkyBelly), but they had no openings, and we found The Progress from the shared website.
One interesting aspect of The Progress is that they have larger format / family style plates (in addition to some appetizers / desserts).
Miso Glazed Winter Squash:
This was an excellent way to start our dinner: Long roasted Winter Squash (from some local farms according to our server), lightly sweet with the Miso giving each bite a nice complexity that made it sing.
Hog Island Sweetwaters Oysters:
While it looked visually imposing, the extra bit of marinated Sea Lettuce on top thankfully didn’t overpower the Hog Island Oysters. These were very fresh.
Tempura Pickled Carrots:
From another local grower, Chef Brioza’s Tempura Pickled Carrots were a surprise and delight: Lightly crispy, non-oily Tempura Battered Carrots were seasoned just right, and a great example of the frying skills of the kitchen.
Black Butter Bourbon Biscuits:
This was stupid good! @ipsedixit and all Biscuit lovers might want to give this a try. They arrived piping hot, fragrant, light crunchy, golden-brown exterior crust with a pillowy inside, and the Black Butter blend added just the right amount of wonderful.
One of my favorite bites of the evening!
Trout Roe “Chip & Dip”:
Dishes like this one (and the previous Black Butter Bourbon Biscuits) are reasons why The Progress really disarmed our initial qualms / uncertainty, and just set us at ease the rest of the evening. It’s comfort food / fun party food reinvented and elevated, but without it feeling fussy.
Taking a classic Chip & Dip idea, Chef Brioza just happens to be serving the “Dip” with an amazing Trout Roe and Dill & Chive Creme Fraiche. Using some freshly fried Housemade Chips, they were outstanding!
The Remedy (Mezcal, Smoked Ginger, Honey, Lemon, Jalapeno):
This sounded amazing on paper, but it was way too boozy. The Mezcal overpowered everything in the drink.
Japanese Salad: Heart of Palm, Local Nori, Trout Roe & Aged Tamari:
This was a pretty unique, interesting Salad: The flavor combination from the shredded Heart of Palm, with the Local Nori, a dash of the Aged Tamari and the oceanic burst from the Trout Roe created a delicious take on what a Salad could be. Loved this!
Napa Valley Lamb Tartare (Sesame Tahini-Spicy Chili Oil, Bronze Fennel & Black Rice Cracker):
This is probably one of the best examples of what makes The Progress standout: Taking a classic French dish but shown through the lens of California. The Napa Valley Lamb is lightly gamy, but so bright and clean tasting (if you weren’t paying attention, you might mistake it for a quality Beef Steak Tartare (which is what one of our friends thought it was at first)).
And while the other ingredients sounds like a lot, it really works: The Lamb is front-and-center, with only a hint of the Sesame-Tahini, a little bit of heat (gentle), and when eaten with the Black Rice Cracker, it gives this nutty, slightly crunchy quality. One of the best dishes of the night!
Tessier Winery 2015 Morelli Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir (Green Valley):
This turned out to be a nice red to go with the meal with a Raspberry/fruit aroma and flavor coming through.
Pork & Kimchi Pierogi (Asian Pear Butter & Toasted Sesame):
Another great dish and a nice twist on the traditional Pierogi. While it might be easy to say it’s just a “Pork & Kimchi Dumpling” (Asian-style), the texture of the wrapper and accompanying Asian Pear Sauce and Toasted Sesame made it more than a typical “Gyoza / Dumpling.” This was quite good, with a bit of the enticing fermented tart-savory coming through in the Kimchi and the Pork was well-seasoned.
Swiss Chard & Farmers Cheese Dumplings (Pistachio Gremolata, Puntarelle & Beet Vinaigrette):
The Swissh Chard & Farmers Cheese Dumplings were just OK. I liked the Puntarelle which tasted like a lighter version of Chicory.
Roasted Cauliflower & Almond Creme Fraiche with Toasted Almonds:
This was light, tasty veggie side dish, with a surprising creaminess given that it was vegan.
Seared So-Cal Yellowtail (Brussels Sprouts, Raisin Glaze, Butternut Squash Broth & Nuts & Seeds):
This looked a touch “plain” and simple for the large format family-style dishes, but what arrived was nicely Seared Yellowtail from Southern California. It was still tender and moist inside, and the flavors once again worked (it seemed kind of overwhelming when we first read the description).
BBQ Liberty Farms Duck (Spicy Peanuts, Thai Basil, Smoked Chili Vinegar):
OK this was incredible! Tender, gristle-free BBQ Duck Breast from Liberty Farms, it had this beautiful light smokiness to it, and perfectly cooked, so tender and juicy still. The Thai Basil and Smoked Chili Vinegar really matched each bite.
This turned out to be a unanimous everyone’s favorite dish of the night! SO GOOD! (@CiaoBob @PorkyBelly @bulavinaka (fans of Charcoal’s Duck take note). It’s not the same, but it has a taste that makes it another outstanding Duck dish like Charcoal’s.)
Refreshing, lightly sweet and cooling.
Chocolate Ganache Roasted Dates:
These were pretty fantastic with Roasted Dates being cooked to the point of almost melting, and the nice coat of luscious Dark Chocolate on top.
We had no idea what to expect with The Progress, but it turns out to be a restaurant that would fit in very well in Southern California with other farmers market-driven restaurants with talented chefs behind the stoves. It has familiar dishes, but elevated, yet it never gives off the vibe of anything more than a great, local hangout with friends.
Chef Brioza’s cooking is the type of food I wish Tar & Roses would be more like (there’s nothing wrong with Tar & Roses, but The Progress is just a better executed version of that, in Chef Brioza’s own way of course). There’s a reason The Progress earned 1 Michelin Star. Nearly every single dish we had this evening was good to outstanding, with multiple highlights and lots of happy people enjoying it along the way. I’m still thinking about their amazing Black Butter Biscuits, Lamb Tartare and the BBQ Liberty Farms Duck Breast as I’m typing this.
1525 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Tel: (415) 673-1294