When this year's food obit is filed (something tells us we'll be the ones writing it), expect some ponderous post-mort on 2009 having been the Year of the Sandwich. Foams and 12-course degustations may seems as quaint as cotillions in this first year of the Great Recession, but stuff bracketed between bread is charged with as much unlikely sex appeal as a neckbeard and a pair of dirty Vans. Turns out S.F. diners are seriously craving food with a certain rusky earnestness, whether that means pushcart Indian at a park in the Mission or a bag of shortbread perfumed with lard. It's a condition that makes the Outer Sunset's Outerlands (4001 Judah at 45th Ave.) as irresistible as some expensively hyped Michael Mina flagship might've been in times more flush. The driftwood walls, the glory-shy anonymous chef (he's punched the clock at Range and Serpentine), the house-baked lévain: It's all as real as hell, emanating a delicately ruddy aura.
This week, SF Weekly restaurant critic Meredith Brody mingles with surfers and the genuinely nice at Outerlands, drooling over heirloom tomato soups and some quintessential expression of pork and beans. Read the details at SFWeekly.com. Meantime, glimpse the realness via this excerpt (after the jump).
The open kitchen at Outerlands turns out delicious food for the traveler. And you feel like you've traveled. At my first lunch, both the setting and the owners' work ethic -- the early risers bake the bread, pies, and cakes daily -- reminded me of flinty, idiosyncratic places in Vermont. When several of us returned for dinner, the hanging plants over the counter, the swirling arrangement of the driftwood on the back wall, and the generally beachy ambience reminded us of hippie cafes in Santa Cruz. Both times we felt like we'd taken a revivifying vacation within the city.