The Out-of-Towners

Two quintessential S.F. restaurants impress visitors from the Southland and our critic

After sharing a properly made risotto with wild nettles, lemon, and strips of melting pecorino sardo, we went on to try all the main courses on offer. Universal's philosophy is one of amazingly consistent quality, careful cooking, and delightful fresh-from-the-farmers'-market accoutrements. We had fresh tagliatelle with a wonderful chicken liver bolognese; roasted chicken with polenta verde, beautiful roasted baby parsnips, and new-garlic jus; a big tender, rosy-hearted pork porterhouse chop with braised greens and cranberry beans that were a touch too toothy; halibut with baby artichokes, new potatoes, fava leaves, and pea tendrils, and a sprightly chervil mayonnaise; and a charcoal-grilled Niman ranch bavette steak with cornmeal onion rings, cauliflower, and rapini.

The desserts met with universal (!) acclaim, and continued the theme of thoughtful, seasonal, well-constructed dishes. We shared a warm blood-orange cake; a chocolate-caramel tart served with Grand Marnier chantilly cream; homey apple-and-rhubarb crisp, an unusually good version of an oft-abused sweet; a panna cotta topped with candied kumquats and sliced kiwi; and a big cocktail glass with Meyer lemon granita layered atop vanilla gelato. The Universal Cafe had more than fulfilled my hopes for a delicious, classic San Francisco meal, worthy of impressing visiting pals. And I was willing to become a regular here, too.

Out the Door is just as delicious and cheaper than its sister establishment, Slanted Door.
Angela Poole
Out the Door is just as delicious and cheaper than its sister establishment, Slanted Door.

Location Info


Out the Door

845 Market
San Francisco, CA 94103

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: South of Market


Out the Door, Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday until 8 p.m. Reservations accepted or not accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: valet $15 for 2 1/2 hours. Muni: 5, 6, 7, 9, 14, 27, 30, 45, F, J, K, L, M, N. Noise level: moderate to high.

Universal Cafe, Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30, brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Closed Monday. Reservations accepted for dinner only. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: fairly easy. Muni: 9, 27. Noise level: high.

Cellophane noodles with crab $14

Chicken claypot with caramel sauce $14.50

Beef bavette with leeks and chili $10.50

Thai basil panna cotta $6

Ginger tapioca $6

Grilled asparagus with sizzled egg $10

Tagliatelle with chicken liver bolognese $17

Roast chicken with polenta and parsnips $18

Grilled bavette with onion rings $22

Apple and rhubarb crisp $7

Out the Door, Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St. (at Fourth Street), 541-9913,

Universal Cafe, 2814 19th (at Bryant), 821-4608,

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