The Progress

1525 Fillmore Street

San Francisco, CA 94115

+1 415 673 1294


The Food:

Caviar Potato Cloud

Hokkaido Scallop Crudo; Avocado, Pear, Pomegranate

Tierra Vegetables Masa Dumplings; Toma Cheese, Huiltacoche Crema

Radicchio & Persimmon; Aged Gouda, Turnip, Hazelnuts

Lightly Smoked Sweet Potatoes; Cauliflower Mushroom Conserva, Nuts, Seed

Bbq Half Duck; Peanut Fried Rice, Smoked Chile Vinegar

Clove Sugared Beignets; Honey Cocoa Ice Cream, Spiced Balsamic, Tart Cherries

Crème Fraîche Plum Swirl Ice Cream Cake; Maple Caramel, Gochujang Pecans

‘World Peace’ Peanut Milk

The Wines:

2020 Tyler Chardonnay Mae Estate                                       94  

2009 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate                                  97  

This fabulous dinner was a nice break from my recent tastings of new releases from Sonoma. COVID-19 disrupted so many routines, including what used to be frequent trips to San Francisco. As readers know, the city has changed in recent years as it grapples with deep economic and social issues. Even so, San Francisco is a city I love.

The Progress is located in the historic Fillmore District, just next to State Bird Provisions, which is also owned and operated by Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. The spacious dining room with high ceilings occupies two floors and features simple but well-adorned tables. The restaurant is packed, and the vibe is energetic. I was surprised my friend was able to snag a reservation at the last minute. “I built a bot that searches for last-minute cancellations at all the restaurants I want to go to,” he told me. “It’s just for me and a few friends.” Of course. I have one of those, too. Well, not exactly.

Caviar Potato Cloud

The menu is divided into three sections: Vegetables Mostly, Western Additions, and Fish and Meat Mains, all of which are focused on locally sourced ingredients. After a day of tasting, I don’t feel like making decisions, so we just order a number of dishes to try, an approach that works well as everything is served family style. The Caviar Potato Cloud, one of the signature dishes here, is a great way to start dinner. Spooning through the appropriately named potato cloud reveals a divine morsel of sweet, briny caviar. Hokkaido scallop crudo is something I could eat every day. Avocado lends texture, while pear and pomegranate add brightness and crunch. Divine.


Hokkaido Scallop Crudo; Avocado, Pear, Pomegranate

I don’t think I have ever had radicchio and persimmons before. It’s a combination that works beautifully in a hearty, rustic winter salad enhanced by aged gouda and hazelnuts. The masa dumplings, with  bold, earthy flavors and distinct Mexican inflections, is another dish that hits the spot on this cold January evening.


Radicchio & Persimmon; Aged Gouda, Turnip, Hazelnuts

The Progress has a terrific wine program. Rebholz, Jolie-Laide, Cobb and Ca’ di Press are among the producers offered by the glass. Options by the bottle are wide-ranging. There are so many wines on this list I want to drink. For those who want to splurge, there are plenty of iconic bottles to choose from, most of them reasonably priced in today’s context. I must say, the cocktails look tempting, too. Ultimately, I go for something my friend is not familiar with, Tyler Chardonnay from the new Mae Estate in the Sta. Rita Hills. I have long believed that, despite the Pinot Noir craze, Chardonnay is the variety that is best suited for the Sta. Rita Hills. This wine, from a recently planted vineyard, shows why. Aromatic and deeply textured, the 2020 Chardonnay Mae Estate captures all the dynamic, citrus and mineral-infused energy of Justin Willett’s new estate vineyard. Fabulous.


Bbq Half Duck; Peanut Fried Rice, Smoked Chile Vinegar

The piece de resistance arrives a few minutes after we send these plates back to the kitchen bare. It is the famed Bbq Half Duck, served with peanut-fried rice and smoked Chile vinegar. What can I say other than this is one of the most divine dishes I have eaten this year. The presentation of thinly sliced, perfectly cooked breast meat and whole leg is stunning, and yet that is only a prelude to the symphony of flavors and textures that reveal themselves with each bite. “I think I over-ordered,” my friend says. “Impossible,” I reply. Even so, readers should be warned the duck is a very generous portion, probably enough for an entire meal, although passing on the rest of the menu would be a crime. Smoked sweet potatoes on the side are an ideal accompaniment.

For the main course, I brought a bottle of 2009 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate from my cellar. This is the pure Brunate, a wine the Rinaldis bottle for themselves and one longstanding private customer whom I have been fortunate to get to know over the years. I chose this wine because my dining companion has visited the estate, knows Barolo intimately, and has access to pretty much any wine he wants. But not this bottle. That, to me, is the joy of having a cellar. Being able to choose a wine someone else has never had and might never have. The 2009 is divine. I can’t say I am surprised, as a recent bottle was every bit as compelling. Soaring aromatics and bright, red-toned fruit are immediately alluring. In the glass, the 2009 displays uncanny freshness, especially for a fifteen-year-old Barolo from a warm, challenging vintage. This is pure and total seduction. The perfect wine for the right moment.

Clove Sugared Beignets with Honey Cocoa Ice Cream, Spiced Balsamic and Tart Cherries lead this trio of delicious desserts.

Desserts are suitably rich. I devour them all, but it is hard to beat beignets, the ultimate comfort food, in my book. With that, I returned to my tastings in Sonoma. My friend climbed into a self-driving Waymo, one of several high-tech cars that made drop-offs and pickups nearby. It was quite a sight.

The Progress has a place in that very rare category of restaurants that are worth a trip alone. Food, service, wine and overall ambiance all get top marks. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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