This is my second time visiting the oh so popular The Progress (read my previous review here) in San Francisco which just received its first Michelin star for 2016. This is the second restaurant of chef Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski and is located literally right next door to their first establishment, State Bird Provisions (read my review here).
The concept at The Progress is still the same, serving all the dishes family style for a fixed price per person. However compared to the first visit, now your table is only allowed to pick four dishes off the menu instead of six. As someone who likes to try as many things off the menu as possible, I was slightly disappointed that they lowered the number of dishes to be chosen. Another difference from my previous visit is that you can also order a few bite sized snacks in addition to your meal which we decided to order. They also provide you with a few amuse bouches that are included in your meal as well.
The first five pictures of food are amuse bouches that the kitchen send out to every table. Out of the complimentary amuse bouches, my favorite were the ham and yuba “pasta” salad and the fried fish with kimchi tartar sauce. The “pasta” salad was actually made from yuba, tofu skin, which was a creative alternative to normal pasta sheets. Delicate sheets of yuba and sweet ham with briny capers, herbs, and nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Delicious! The fried fish were crispy and moist with a slightly spicy kimchi tartar sauce.
Next we received the two snacks we ordered in addition to our four courses. The uni guacamole was tasty with an acidic tomato vinaigrette but the flavors seemed to overpower the delicate sweetness of the fresh uni. The potato cloud was heaven on earth; pillowy potato foam with salty caviar underneath.
Our first appetizer after the amuse bouches and snacks was the smoked trout salad. Barely cooked and lightly smoked vibrant trout with earthy chioggia beets, herbaceous quinoa tabouleh, and pops of saltiness from the trout roe.
This appetizer, the celery root ravioli, was my least favorite of the dishes we ordered. While I liked the concept of the dish the celery root ravioli needed more flavor and more stuffing in each ravioli. The quince paste didn’t add as much flavor needed to the dish but I did enjoy the shavings of goat Gouda cheese on top.
The lamb merguez sausage dish was by far my favorite of the night. Slices of spicy aromatic lamb sausage with lightly fried crispy squid and charred pieces of octopus paired brilliantly with creamy yellow-eye beans, crunchy puffed rice, and a plethora of fresh herbs such as bronze fennel, cilantro, and mint. A real intricate flavor bomb.
Our last savory course was another winner, the fried rice with tea smoked Sonoma duck. Crispy fried rice and puffed rice on top with tender slices of tea smoked duck and earthy maitake mushrooms
Both our desserts were pretty tasty as well. The eggnog stracciatella ice cream was on point for the holiday season with boozy whipped cream and a walnut plum jam sandy. The clementine almond cake was moist with slightly tart and sweet huckleberries, fresh thyme, and drizzled with caramelized honey.
Overall, The Progress is still a great restaurant serving innovative Californian cuisine. However, my experience at their sister restaurant, State Bird Provisions, was just slightly better in terms of food but The Progress is surely worth trying for any foodie so my rating remains at an 8/10.