Big news: I moved from San Francisco back to Chicago! I absolutely love San Francisco, and I left part of my heart in that glorious city, but ultimately, I decided that the Bay Area is just too stupid expensive for me right now. Maybe at another time in my life I will end up back in the Bay, and I will welcome it with open arms (and hopefully a higher salary). But for now, I will have to love that city from afar.
That being said, when I gave my notice and decided to make the move, my fellow foodie co-worker was 100% committed to making sure I ate through ALL of San Francisco before I left. In his words, “you need another layer to keep you warm when you return to the midwest”. Touché, touché.
One of the stops on what I am deeming the “SF Eat Week” was the famous restaurant, The Progress. Owned by the same Michelin Starred power couple of State Bird Provisions, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinki have made The Progress a new SF legend in its own dynamic and unique way. Among over a dozen other noteworthy accolades, this eatery landed one of 15 spots in Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2015, and I totally understand why.
First things first, you definitely will want to make a reservation. This place is gaining momentum fast (as expected), and likely will fill up if you don’t call dibs. When you do have the pleasure of dining there, you’ll start the meal off with a few light bites, courtesy of the kitchen (pictured above). These are just to wake up your palate, and I’m all for munching while waiting for the main course, so I was digging it already. Things like mulberries, fried tofu & sprouted sunflower pesto, ginger-chickpea hummus over peppered crackers, cured ham with honey, and marinated parsnips with fig saba were coming my way and I was over the moon ecstatic about every single one of them.
Let’s move on to the main course. The menu style is adventurous and the ordering approach in unique in that you choose two items from the “appetizer” section of the menu and two items from the “entrée” section. However, when two foodies go to a restaurant, we tend to make our own rules. Listen to me loud and clear, friends: you can’t live your life within the restraints someone else sets for you, even if those restraints are the number of items you can order off a menu. So in true rebel fashion, our THREE appetizers were as follows: half moon bay halibut “ceviche”, super fresh ricotta, and black cod toast.
I was most excited for the ricotta but to be honest, the cod toast took me by surprise in the best possible way. I was totally blown away by the silky light taste it carried, when typically cod tends to bore me and leave me less than satiated. Not the case here.
For entrees, we opted for the So-Cal Swordfish and the Grilled Llano Seco Pork Shoulder. The swordfish was juicy and packed a good amount of flavor, which again caught me by surprise, as I typically think of swordfish as void of any true flavor. The kale and citrus really brought out brighter tones and hit a great spot for my tastebuds. The pork comes chopped so you can make your own lettuce wrap. The sunflower seed samba that accompanies it provides plenty of flavor and a little kick to make this dish absolutely crave-able.
Try as I might, there was physically no more room in my stomach for dessert. But the entrées alone left no desire for more! It was honestly that good. Not to mention the employees at the restaurant totally knew what they are doing, not just in service and dining, but the dishes and ingredients to a microscopic level. And for those of you who have dined with me, this absolutely blows me away and makes my experience that much more memorable.
I highly recommend this eatery for SF locals who have no intention of moving. However, if you are planning on uprooting your life to a different city anytime soon, I warn you desperately to STAY AWAY FROM THE PROGRESS. One bite into that black cod toast may have you questioning all of your life decisions and canceling your moving van at the last minute.
Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.