The story: Located in the far reaches of San Francisco’s Sunset District, Outerlands has been drawing crowds since it was a little cafe near Ocean Beach. It’s especially popular for weekend brunch, with long waits. Owners Dave Muller and Lana Porcello expanded next door, giving the interiors a fresh, reclaimed wood rustic decor. Last year, Outerlands saw a bit of chef shuffles after longtime chef Brett Cooper left and a new chef lasted only four months before Muller and Porcello placed the kitchen helm under sous chef Bayani Inclano and pastry chef Brooke Mosley.
Why I went: Early last year I took a day off so I could beat the weekend crowds by going for lunch during the weekday. But after I went with my friend Craig, Chef Cooper left so I felt I couldn’t do a review of the place. So recently I returned with my friend Blake for weekend brunch, going early to avoid the crowds and wait, which still can happen at peak times.
The vibe: A chic cabin feel with the reclaimed-wood decor, and a young hipster crowd, primarily people living in the neighborhood. And you can’t go without seeing some guy wearing plaid or a knit cap.
The menu: The limited menu emphasizes fresh, local ingredients and include a section of pastries. The concept continues under Inclano-Mosley, but gone is the often ordered cubano ($15), which was an open-faced Cubano sandwich with braised pork, mortadella, swiss cheese and pickles. But the new menu has some creative touches, such as the two dishes Blake and I had as our brunch mains: the Dutch pancake baked in a cast iron pan ($12) and the “eggs-in-jail” ($12), which is similar to a toad in a hole but with the addition of chermoula, sweet sausage and squash (that seemed more like carrots).
The booze: Outerlands has a full bar with specialty cocktails, wine and beer, but since I went for lunch and brunch at both occasions, I didn’t really delve into the drink program.
My favorite dish: In my recent visit, I was surprised by the mustard green salad ($10), a beautiful plate that was refreshing with a mixture of ingredients (smoked curd, apple, artichoke, honey, ume, crispy alliums) and a light vinaigrette that really brightened the dish and opened up my palate for the rest of the meal.
Insider tip: Do like the regulars — after putting your name on the wait list, head over a few steps down to Trouble Coffee for some unique coffee experience at one of the neighborhood’s parklet.
The last bite: Despite the changes in the kitchen, Outerlands is going strong under the new chefs, with a creative menu and beautiful plating that delivers in flavor. While some of the baked goods can sometimes seem straight-forward, the service and open space make it a fun spot for brunch.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Outerlands, 4001 Judah St. (at 45th Street), San Francisco. PH: 415.661.6140. Open weekday lunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; weekend brunch, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and dinner daily, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations accepted for dinner only, for parties up to 6. Major credit cards accepted. outerlandssf.com
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