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Market Watch: What's On the Spring Menu at Outerlands?

Chef Brett Cooper has spent the last several years working his way through some of the best restaurant kitchens in San Francisco. With stints at Rubicon, Coi, and Saison under his belt, Cooper has taken on the task of gently refining the menu at Outerlands, in the Sunset District. “It’s a really big transition, from fine dining,” he says, “but it gives me a chance to be in a really positive environment with great people and an ability to experiment with healthier menu items. We’re sticking with the same style of service and cooking that Outerlands is known for and just elevating that a little,” he told me last Saturday.

I caught up with Brett while he was at the Heirloom Organics stand picking up a box filled with flowering mustard, beets, purple top turnips, borage and tatsoi rabe. The tatsoi rabe, he told me, would be quickly sautéed with shiitake mushrooms, honey and rice wine vinegar and served with the last Delicata squash of the season. He says, “Tatsoi has a nice spinach-like flavor that is great raw and also lends itself well to a quick pickle.”

As the last of the winter produce winds down Cooper is now looking to the farmers market for spring inspiration. This comes naturally to him; he’s been a faithful market shopper since his days at Rubicon and he’ll maintain that tradition at Outerlands.

Brett’s spring menu will include what he refers to as “the usual spring suspects”—asparagus, peas, fava beans, etc.—but he’ll also seek out more unusual items like fir tips, orach and arugula blossoms from some of his favorite farmers. This week his menu features yellowtail with fresh baby fava beans from County Line Harvest; roasted beets with house made ricotta and wild mesclun from White Crane Springs; and beef short ribs served with Swanton Berry Farm artichokes and a risotto of faro and (his spring
favorite) Knoll Farms green garlic.