As I left the office, putting out as many preemptive fires as I could possibly imagine, I was ready to let go, sit back, and enjoy the ride...
That took 45 minutes longer than usual thanks to the pleasure cruise that is rush hour traffic.
I must admit that despite the pressures of my job and the bumper-to-bumper commute to the airport, nearly all was forgotten at the sight of Brian. It had been almost a full year since I had seen him last, just before I left college for San Francisco. Just as happy as always, Brian gives off this incredible energy that just makes you want to be around him all the time. He was a sight for sore eyes in that magical "guy love" sort of way. But I digress...
The first meal with someone who visits your city (yes, this is my city now, thank you very much) is always an important one. It sets the tone for the rest of the trip: one bad dinner and you spend the rest of your time trying to pick up the restaurant's slack, but a great one and you're full, happy, and ready to take on the world.
We received the latter at Outerlands.
I had been there for brunch (which was beyond phenomenal), but had always wanted to try their dinner. A cozy atmosphere with rustic, fresh, farm-to-table ingredients was exactly what I needed to shake off the work-week funk in which I sat, and Outerlands fit the bill perfectly.
Brian had been adhering to the Paleo diet, which excludes gluten entirely. For this trip, however, he decided to step away, and so what better spot to take him than one known for its bread that, in my personal opinion, is better than Tartine. Yes, I said it, and I will say it again - BETTER THAN TARTINE.
As we cozied up to a four top underneath the heat lamps with our closest friend Kevin, we started off with two orders of their famous levain - inch and a half thick slices of sourdough, a flaky, crispy-but-not-too-crispy crust (which is where I think it outshines Tartine) with a fluffy, chewy interior were the perfect canvas on which to paint (generously) the house made butter and flaky sea salt. It's one of those comfort food moments where you take a bite, chew and ponder, and heave a gigantic sigh of blissful calm and sloop back into your chair.
The newest menu item caught more than one set of eyes at the table, as we partook in two plates of shrimp and grits with farro, pork shank, English peas, and other ridiculousness. Kevin, looking dazed and confused at the thought of having to make a decision among the mouth watering choices, finally decided on the beef tenderloin - which I offered to split with him.
And good thing I did.
Rarely have I ever had meat so tender that it quite literally melted in my mouth. The flavors were so intense, with a nice salty bite on the forefront. It was cooked to that delicate balancing act between rare and medium rare, beaming a pink hue that beckoned to me.
Yes, it's nice to finish off a meal with something sweet, but often times I find myself too full to even think about it. All of us were extraordinarily content, and didn't really want the night to end. So, a chemex of Sightglass Coffe for Brian and me, and some (shockingly wonderful) barley tea for Kevin, and we shared each of the three desserts on the menu. After all...why not?
I have to admit that while the carrot cake was good, it was by far and away the least impressive of the three. Served with crème fraîche and a crisp sugar brûlée, it was decent, and let's be clear, polished off.
"It's like a liquid truffle."
Not quite a liquid, per se, but not quite a solid either. Imagine that smooth texture you find on the inside of a truffle, and apply that to dark chocolate atop, as well as the salted caramel below.
Just how a perfect meal should leave you feeling.
It was one of those perfect nights that you remember forever. The company was unbeatable, the food was to die for, and as the chill came into the Sunset air and we held onto our hot beverages, we struggled to arise from our seats, as none of us wanted it to end.
Outerlands - thank you for a wonderful start to a much needed vacation.
"They're always closed..."