Southern food galore! In The Mission?
Finally! Thanksgiving has passed, which is why there was no food nosh this week. There truly was not much if any news to pass along. Now we can concentrate on Christmas, a real holiday you can enjoy everyday from now till New Years. I mean, I've put up my tree, have you?
Moving on from the short fall break, what better way to get into the holidays than with some home-style like cooking. My constant search for Southern food in San Francisco can sometimes take surprising turns, like a 12 Folsom bus ride to Outer Mission-ish areas. You see, further proof I will head most anywhere in this town to find food to tell people about! In this instance it was to partake in some down home flavor at Buttermilk Southern Kitchen (I couldn't get their webpage to load but you are free to link away or go here).
In SF restaurant terms they aren't exactly new as they opened up in 2015. I feel like I've had them on the peripheral of my brain since they opened but for whatever reason, things just never clicked in to get there. Things took a turn when their name popped up on GrubHub as a place that delivers, since you know, we order in more than our fair share. After scrolling through their online menu I made up my mind to jump a bus over and check them out.
Located on the corner of 23rd and Bryant, it is more neighborhood like around them instead of say one business after another. I almost walked right past. While it is nondescript outside, inside it still has a sheen of new. The walls are covered in varying greys of wood slats and they are then lined with shelves of canned and bottled veggies and stuff. Just like a country kitchen (in a movie)!
Still, it really about decor and such with me, a nice touch, but the food will be the thing. I'm actually here at lunch for a couple reasons. One: it isn't as busy, two: easier to get into, three: after looking at their lunch and dinner online menus seems prices are a couples dollars less for lunch portions. Yes, you may get one less piece of something, but it makes it easier to be able to afford to try more than one thing.
The menu is awash in Southern and Creole faves like fried chicken, gumbo, bbq, oxtails, pork chops, chicken livers and more. There are even brunch dishes for hash and pancakes, if you are into that. I'm looking for traditional old school stuff as I look at their lunch plate options which come with a main, two sides and some cornbread.
Which brought me to the pork chop smothered in sausage gravy and for sides (they have a handful to choose from) I picked the whipped sweet potatoes with brown sugar and the long cooked collard greens. Yes I splurged a bit with the $16 and thus was hoping for a decent sized chop which for the most part it was a double cut size. I'm guessing the meat was maybe brined though wasn't too sure. It was grilled and on the whole done right. Tender on the inside, though some of the edges got a bit tough, but in principle a good job on a piece of meat that can be a challenge to cook. My big issue here was the sausage gravy. While it was thick and full of sausage bits for flavor, it was also super mega way over the top salty. So much so, it was inedible for me. A shame really as seasoned right, it had potential. Not sure if whoever made it likes LOTS of salt or what but this just did not work on any level. I ended up scrapping it all off and going very old school with some pork chop and a side of ketchup for dipping.
The sides, however, were a better story. Smooth and creamy potatoes (though could have used more butter like a lot of things) and collards that had just a bit of crunch to them. Of course to me, I wouldn't have called them long cooked which signifies more of a highly soft green. And they could have used a bit more pepper and salt. Hey, maybe take some from the gravy and put in the greens! I kid, but I did like the sides and he cornbread. Two warm pieces of only slightly sweet cornbread which went great with some lovely soft butter. Yep, sucker for good cornbread and butter, lots and lots of butter. One point of note, while at the restaurant I had iced tea and the server did a great job of keeping the mason jar (I know, a restaurant trope) full so kudos for it.
Now, like this Southern food journey, I decided to go on a different trip in order to try some more of Buttermilk's dishes. Since I had originally gotten renewed interest in them through GrubHub, I had the idea to order up some lunch plates through them a week or so after my initial visit. I know what you are thinking, brilliant idea, right? Why leave the house when they can bring it to you! Yeah, I'll believe what I want to believe and you can, well, do whatever you do.
Let say off the top, because I was ordering around late lunch time, the deliveries came pretty fast and the food was still warm.
My first delivery was of their fried chicken, which seems to be popular. Two pieces and my side choices of mac and cheese and garden salad, though for delivery, I only got one piece of cornbread instead of the two at the restaurant. They sent one leg and a rather large boneless breast of lightly battered and deep fried chicken that was tender, juicy and crispy. It was a pretty good version of a classic Southern dish. I was pleasantly surprised and that breast could have made a quite tasty fried chicken sandwich to add to the ones prevalent in this town (depending of course, on what they decide to put on it).
The mac and cheese was of the creamy version and came with some crunchy bread crumb bits on top. They are a baked version of another classic dish, but creamier and cheesier than some version you might get. The garden salad was fine and all that and would be a great side if you are trying to stay healthy or something. From a value and flavor stand point, it doesn't add anything and I would suggest it would be better to go for one of the other hot options they offer. The cornbread does get a prize for consistency as it tasted just the same as I'd had before. A good thing and, since I was at home, I could add as much butter to it without the fear of public shame.
The second delivery was the bbq pork short rib which automatically comes with mashed potatoes, cole slaw and the cornbread (again, just the one piece). For the price, it seemed a little on the short rib slim side as you see you just get the one for lunch. Though it is boneless (not sure this is always the case), there was very little fat and the meat was about as fall apart tender as you can find around town. The sauce was just a tad and a touch on the sweet side for my liking, but that's minor. The mashed potatoes were thick and creamy with small chunks of potato and the slaw was different. A blend of cabbage, carrots and cucumbers(?) mixed with a just a little bit of sweet and now that I think about it, probably a poppy seed dressing of some sort. Not bad, but also not sure it would be a side I would normally choose.
What did I learn? Between the restaurant and the delivery, I will say they do a really great job with consistency of food something can be challenging on a regular basis. Prompt delivery also helps. And while I was happy with pretty much the majority of food I had, I do think their prices border on the high side, even for lunch. But, sadly, it seems to be the going norm and cost of trying to run a successful restaurant business in this town. Still, at the end of my circuitous journey to find and try their food, they do some tasty Southern food dishes and if you are looking to go down home without actually going down South, Buttermilk Southern Kitchen is nice option to have in SF. If you really want a full Southern treatment, I guess you could always take a MUNI bus there and pretend you are on Greyhound or something and feel like you are truly in the South. From experience, I can tell you, there isn't much difference between them.