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Mar 11, 2009 11:54 AM

Outerlands on Judah SF

Has anyone been to the recently opened Outerlands Cafe on Judah in San Francisco's Sunset District? Any comments to share?

Outerlands Cafe
4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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  1. I went today. I only went for lunch and there were only two of us, so I can't comment on a lot of the menu items.

    OK, so you have to seriously like food to go here, because the menu is truly weird. If you want to come to dinner and expect to find a fish dish, a meat dish, a poultry dish, and a vegetarian dish, you will be sorely disappointed. The dinner menu, which I took home with me, has four salads, two soups, three vegetable dishes and macaroni and cheese. There is probably a special every night, one of the two guys there, I assume co-owners (?), told me they would have some sort of lamb stew tonight also.

    For lunch, there were four or five dishes. I don't know exactly because you had to go outside and read the lunch menu on the door. Like I said, you have to seriously like food, and I will expand on that. There were two soups, a salad or two, and a pastrami sandwich. Hidden in the description of one of the soups was a grilled cheese sandwich - it wasn't listed separately, but it seemed like a lot of diners ordered it. More on the grilled cheese later.

    So the ambience reminds me of San Francisco when I first visited at the tail end of the hippie era. I was pretty young, but I do remember the open feeling of the places I ate, with a lot of wood, comfortable but unassuming tables, big windows that open. The kitchen is open and along one wall. The chairs were surprisingly comfortable - I injured my hip over the weekend and my seat was all wood yet didn't bother me like most chairs have since the injury. The two workers were twenty somethings (the cook is friends with the people that cook at the Broken Record) and very accommodating. The patrons were mixed age-wise, probably a reflection of most places in the Sunset. In fact, it reminded me of a food version of Trouble Coffee in terms of the crowd. You go to the counter to order (not sure if this is true at dinner) but they bring your food.

    OK, so on to the food. Well there were only two of us, and my friend asked for the grilled cheese, which I had with the potato leek soup. I'm not a big soup eater, but I figured I would try it and I'm glad I did. It was sublime. I took the +$2 for the grilled cheese, which is not grilled cheese, it is a great melted cheese sandwich. I don't know what to say about the soup, it was just something you kept eating until you were scraping out the bowl with your spoon. The menu says it has garlic oil, herbed bread crumbs, and levain. I don't really get the levain part, I always thought levain was yeast, maybe they added it, I don't know, it was just great.

    On to the grilled cheese. Very thick fresh bread, just like Trouble serves for their toast although not the same bread from what I tasted. It's put in the oven with cheese on it, it looks like the outside was buttered and maybe toasted on the grill. It looks way too thick and bready, but I ate all of mine and so did everyone else there. Super-duper.

    We sat there for two hours while the owners (I think) worked on dinner (I think) and nobody said it was time to go or anything else. Just another day in a relaxed hippie joint in the Outer Sunset. I don't live that close, but I will be going back. In fact, I will probably stop going to Trouble for beans at opening time and will go at lunch time just to eat at Outerlands.

    1. Any updates? The Chronicle recently did a review

      I'm intrigued not only by the Dutch baby pancake, but the savory version of the Dutch baby pancake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        A friend and I went a month or two ago. We had three dishes - the chicken noodle soup, macaroni and cheese and, I think, a salad of some sort. Everything was okay, nothing special or even especially good. Portions were somewhat small for the price.

        I live in the area, and would be surprised if I went back.

        1. re: rworange

          It's a charming place, the brunch is very worthwhile, and their bread is excellent. Theu use one size plate, and it's small, which makes eating some dishes difficult without food falling off the plate. Otherwise, the portions are fine. I haven't seen the pancake, but the french toast, and eggs in a basket type dish are both very good, and simple. I wished there was a potato, fruit, or something else on the plate, but in the long run I didn't miss it, and felt satisfied. In my opinion, dinners need some rethinking.

        2. I was and am one of the biggest fans of Outerlands, but after trying to go there last night, I think it may have gotten too big for its space. Basically Outerlands is the best restaurant in SF, in what is essentially a small cafe space. They were so deservedly packed, with about half the capacity of the restaurant waiting for a table, and no hostess to take peoples' names, or even tell anybody what to expect. The place was mayhem. This was a Tuesday night!

          2 Replies
          1. re: lessleyellen

            best restaurant in SF? really? i can see someone thinking it's a hidden gem, for what it is, but i'm curious what you had during dinners that qualified as a "best"?

            1. re: sugartoof

              It might be the best restaurant in the Sunset, that's not hard to imagine..and thus it would be packed. Not much out there.

          2. Very positive review in today's New York section

            1 Reply
            1. I have gone there three times, all lunch. The menu has rounded out for the meat and seafood eaters. The levain is delicious. I have had the grilled cheese twice, so YUM. Thick slices of Levain, I think they are rubbed with garlic and then basted in butter, they get the bread nice and crispy and the cheese starts to melt into the bubbles of the crumb. The other time I had the open face eggplant sando, fabulous. Today i had the tomato soup wth my grilled cheese. it was delicious, creamy without cream - I think. It was too deep red to have had cream added. I couldn't finish my soup, so i left a $2 deposit and took it home in a mason jar. Awesome, I live in the neaighborhood so the return will be easy, I wonder if I will be able to order something besides the grilled cheese Of course when I go to dinner, I will have to order the mac and cheese. I probably will need to go in a group so everything can be sampled.
              I think they only offer dine in during dinner times.

              Go go go!