State Bird Provisions, that little restaurant named the best one to open in America last year by Bon Appetit, is admittedly built off of that titular Golden State bird, the quail. Here, it's fried in a coating that incorporates croutons from bread baked in-house and pumpkin seats and set atop a bowl of lemon-stewed onions. And while quail isn't the most exotic inclusion on a menu ever -- it's been in nachos on the Chevy's menu for eons, for example -- State Bird's celebration of the teeny tiny treat has inspired more chefs to take a closer look at quail.
Nearby in the Richmond District, chef Dennis Wong of Le Soleil marinates his quail in a soy and ginger-based marinade and then sets it alight at the table. It's a show-stopping appetizer that will have you quickly ordering a second. At Hawaiian pop-up Lihoiho Yacht Club, it's fried and coated with an addictive honey-chili sauce. The bird occasionally wings its way onto the plate at Zaré at Fly Trap, where it is prepared in the Persian fesenjoon style with pomegranate and walnuts. And Baker & Banker has been known to stuff it with decadent fillings like brioche or pork belly.
The quail's egg is also still getting a lot of play around town, whether in the old standby of having them pickled as a bar snack at The Alembic, with steak tartare at Bluestem Brasserie, atop a savory pie at Tony's Pizza Napoletana, or as an accompaniment to the ahi tuna tartare on the new lunch menu at Michael Mina.