I had heard great things about The Progress SF from several friends plus the restaurant has received a huge amount of press since it opened. On the other hand, it is the sister restaurant to State Bird Provisions, which people love but didn’t blow me away, so actually I anticipated that I wouldn’t like The Progress SF which lowered my expectations. I am happy that I was wrong and we loved it.
We had an 8pm booking for dinner with Stewart’s friend Carlos. Sadly his wife (who we hadn’t met) couldn’t join us as she had classes. Carlos had also heard great things about the restaurant and luckily, we all had no food restrictions and decided to tackle the menu in a democratic way. The way the meal works is that the entire table chooses six dishes for $65 and then the kitchen sizes the portions accordingly and all dishes are served family style. But if you want more food, they charge $10 per person for each additional course. We chose two dishes each and then cross checked to make sure it appealed to the others. I chose one dish and dessert (counts as one course but they bring all three to the table).
What we ate:
The meal started with an amuse bouche which was delivered soon after we sat down thankfully. We were starving as we had been waiting for 45 minutes at the bar despite having a reservation. The amuse was interesting with nibbles including tomatoes in tuna sauce, melon in tomato water, albacore with puffed rice and beets.
Alaskan sockeye ‘pickled’ in dashi with nori, avocado & cucumber: the presentation blew us away with small slices of very bright pinkish fish. The flavours were all new and interesting and the fish was fresh and melt in your mouth delicious.
Sliced heirloom tomatoes with sweet corn and mount tam croquettes: this dish was our favorite! The sweetest tomatoes with very fresh corn and deliciously rich mount tam croquettes that added a touch of warmth and to the dish. The dusted cornmeal also was a nice addition that provided a cool visual effect as well as some extra sweetness, and texture.
Potato-sauerkraut dumpling with santa rosa plum preserves: another surprising dish. The dumplings were more like polish varenikes in shape and the thin dough was stuffed with a smoked potato and sauerkraut mix. The plum preserve was not too sweet and there was also some sour cream and fried leaves for extra flavour.
Spiced Sonoma coast ling cod, blistered romanos & jimmy nardello verjus: I would rate this the second best dish! The fish was nicely spiced and beautifully flaky and served with crunchy chickpea and blistered peppers.
Lamb merguez with black-eyed peas, octopus & crispy squid: we were intrigued about this dish and worried the sausages wouldn’t work well with the seafood, but thankfully they did and the sausage just added some richness and spiciness to the nicely crunchy squid and the roasted octopus.
Goddess melon floating island, yogurt sorbet & strawberry: very light and summery but also somewhat bland.
Coconut-cinnamon ice cream, plum sungold tomato caramel, hazelnuts: this was our favourite dessert! The cinnamon and coconut combo was yummy but the highlight was the outstanding tomato jam consumed! So interesting and unique with a subtle tomato flavour that paired perfectly with the ice cream and the crunchy hazelnuts.
Cocoa olive oil cake, meyer lemon curd cream & umeboshi peaches: I didn’t care for this dessert at all as the peaches tasted like they had been soaked in butter and the chocolate and lemon combo didn’t work for me. The boys surprisingly liked it better than I did.
In sum: very creative concept but make sure your friends eat everything and are ok with sharing food. The savoury dishes were spectacular but the desserts could have been better. The service was ok but they lose points for seating us 45 minutes after our 8pm reservation.
The Progress SF http://theprogress-sf.com/
1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, United States