The Progress (1525 Fillmore Street, 415-673-1294) from Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, opened on Dec. 16. The two restaurants are actually right next door, with The Progress to the left, State Bird Provisions to the right, and now above, a new butchery room, pastry room, and a (distant) future event space.
Walking into The Progress, you’ll see the first new addition to the house: the inviting and quietly elegant bar. Some seats and tables flank the front milky glass window, which refracts the outside lights and the silhouettes of passing cars and people into an ambient cinematic backdrop.
The bar manager is Bryan Hamann, most recently at Monsieur Benjamin and previously at Starbelly and RN74. His menu exhibits the same zeitgeist as the kitchen: experimental, handcrafted, and creative. Hamann is there at 5 p.m. daily, before the dining room opens, with his talented and friendly bar team ready to greet you with cocktails ($10–$12) that are either twists on classics like his Negroni made with umeboshi vermouth (the salty notes bring an aperitivo-like vibe to the drink, whetting your appetite), or original creations like The Mezzanine, an homage to the space’s former theater incarnation that brings mezcal, house-made banana liqueur, a nocino rinse, lime, and allspice into a smoky yet unexpectedly bright cocktail. There are 12 seats at the bar, plus plenty of counters where you can stand (meet your new waiting room) and a little niche with two tables.
The main dining room has 54 seats, and the 23-foot vaulted ceiling makes such an impression. On the right is a wall of exposed lath, with a curving portion in the middle that resembles the hull of a vintage ship. The ceiling is lacquered and bright white, charmingly revealing the imperfections of its century-old surface. To the left are banquettes and tables, and to the right, four booths with curving steel benches tucked under the “hull.”
In the back is the kitchen, open and alive, with some softly smoky notes coming from the custom J&R wood-fired grill (Stuart had J&R turn its rotisserie into a kind of smoke box, where ingredients can bask in the wafting smoke from the grill for hours without being traditionally smoked).
Above the kitchen is a mezzanine with a round chef’s table that seats eight — kitchen staff will serve the initial courses to those diners. There’s another mezzanine in the front of the restaurant with two tables (seating 16 to 20 total), which will be opened in time. It’s apparent that they’re looking forward to serving large groups.
Where State Bird is all about feeling like a culinary cocktail party of your dreams, with waves of canapés, The Progress is more like an adventurous family meal. Your table can choose from five dishes ($54 per person), seven dishes ($68), nine dishes ($82), or the imperial menu ($108). There are three different sections (plus dessert), grouped by lighter to meatier dishes, around 15 in all, and there are add-ons, too, like oysters.
You’ll need to form a quorum at your table about which dishes to order (you will check off little boxes on the menu) because the dishes will be served in a communal fashion. Yes, it’s the next generation of share plates, and the kitchen pays keen attention to how many people are dining at your table and then tailors your dishes accordingly.
Wine director and general manager Jason Alexander has emerged from the wine world and returned to the restaurant floor with this project. It’s an exciting time in California right now, and his list reflects that, with about 50 percent of the selections pulled from our crop of California winemakers who are pushing boundaries and exploring new expressions. The remainder of the list will look worldwide to places like the Loire (and even the Canary Islands), where young winemakers are doing their own thing, and highlighting exciting, unusual, and personal wines with a story and soul.
For now, there are about 120 selections, which will grow, with lots of bubbles, and some racy Rieslings that finish bone dry. There is a tight by-the-glass selection, with nightly selections poured en magnum, likely a sparkling and a red, and other fun presentations. Value is important, with bottles mostly ranging from the $30s to the $50s. With Jason’s polished background (Cyrus, Gary Danko), there is a curated list of cellar selections, featuring great properties and vintages, and yes, some values there, too.
Dinner service begins nightly at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available online; walk-ins allowed at the bar.
In case you need a break from all the holiday indulging, check out the new Seed + Salt (2240 Chestnut Street, 415-872-9173) from owner Mo Clancy and executive chef Ariel Nadelberg (Al Di La in New York City) that’s now open in the Marina. It’s all about healthful and plant-based eating, so this is the place to find flavor-focused vegan, gluten-free, and cane sugar-free foods. They’ve also made sure nothing contains GMO products. The space (designed by G. Paoletti Design Lab) is small, with only 14 seats inside and benches outside, and the menu will be available for dine-in or takeout.
In addition to their afternoon menu, they also serve breakfast. Because of the unique menu quality, most items are made from scratch, including spreads, dips, “cheeses” from nut milk, and a gluten-free seed and nut loaf. Clancy and Nadelberg have been collaborating on recipes and refining techniques for a year. They are also making gluten- and cane sugar-free pastries. For breakfast, check out a chickpea frittata or their house-made granola. In the afternoon, offerings include a beet burger, seasonal salads, and a “BLT” made with smoky eggplant in place of bacon. Hours are Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 8pm and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.