Rusty’s Southern is a relatively new restaurant, just opened this year (2015). They serve Southern-inspired fare, in not-so-desirable neighborhood. Therefore, the people who lives nearby must be super happy to see a new restaurant with great food opening up in this area. It doesn’t have a big sign on the outside, just the name on the windows. So be careful and pay attention so that you don’t pass right by it when you are walking around.
As soon as we entered, the owner, Rusty, greeted us with warm smile. We didn’t have reservation but got a table without any issue. Rusty was very nice, friendly, and helpful. The other staff were nice also. The inside is simple with earth color and wood furniture. I really liked the benches with stone wheels on the legs. The table was very solid, thick wood, giving that “Southern feel” to it. There were lots of lights hanging from the ceiling, but not too bright, just the right amount of light to give that cozy atmosphere.
There are lots of eating space, when you walk in, there is a bar with counter and table seating, and there are more table seating at the back. There are several long tables with bar seats for groups as well. Some walls were more decorative and festive than others, especially around those long tables. There was one section all the way to the back by the kitchen with one long table, if you want more privacy for your group dinner, which I thought was pretty cool. They had some very old black and white photos throughout, very interesting to look at… and their bathroom was huge! There was only 1 for men and 1 for woman, but the size of the bathroom was like the size of small studio apartment in NYC.
As we were looking over the menu, they brought roasted peanuts, which I never had before. It was soooooo tasty, it was such a pleasant surprise. It was addictive, and went perfectly well with nice cold beer. I wish I could have this every day… I don’t know how they do it, but it had a nice salty flavor that was just right. So much better than some traditional complimentary bread.
Their beer menu is very interesting, mostly local craft beer, and also ones from Ohio, Maine, Utah, Germany, Belgium, etc. I can see they selected these beer carefully, and I am sure they change their offering with some seasonal special. We tried out some CA beers: Pivo Pilsner, Firestone Walker from Paso Robles, CA ($7) and Villager IPA, Ft. Point Brewing from San Francisco, CA ($8). The Pivo Pils had golden color and scents of floral. It was hoppy, a bit spicy and bitter. Finish was dry, leaving that spiciness. It was crisp, clean, dry, and hoppy. If you like the kind of beer that is spicy and dry, this might be the one for you. The IPA had amber-tan color and scents of orange-citrus. I really enjoyed this beer, more than the Pils. It had the nice taste of orange and pine notes, less carbonated, easier to drink. I prefer beer that is not so spicy or dry, so that is another reason why I liked the IPA better.
We really wanted desserts from this place, so we didn’t want to order big meal. Dessert can be MORE important than main dishes sometimes (or most of the times in my case). We ordered Baked Mac and Cheese with Kale Chip Crust ($5), and Hot Chicken Sliders ($12). The Mac & Cheese is one of the side item, so it was small. The kale chip was nice and crisp, but I felt that this dish lacked flavor. It was not very cheese-y, and the kale chips was bland… A bit disappointing. You could have this with pork cracklin instead of kale chips, maybe that would’ve had more flavor. The Chicken Slider came with Spicy Fried Thigh, Creamy Slaw, and pickles on Benne Brioche Bun. What we didn’t know was, it had chunks of hot pepper sauce towards the middle. The chicken itself was so amazing, fried perfectly and tasty, and the slaw went great with the chicken. Even though it was called the “Slider,” it was much bigger than the usual sliders that I have seen. Another thing is that sliders usually comes in three (from my experience), but this order came with two, but I think it was because it was much larger than ordinary sliders. The unfortunate thing was, the hot sauce was so extremely spicy, I couldn’t finish it. And I really like spicy food. But this…it was a bit too much. I was scraping off some of the hot sauce off the chicken, and still was too spicy. If it was not so crazy with the hot sauce, it would be an amazing dish, and I would’ve loved it from the beginning to the end.
Now, the dessert time (“our” main dish time)! We ordered Milk & Cookies ($5), Buttermilk Pie ($7), and Brioche Bread Pudding ($7). The Milk & Cookie was mostly out of curiosity, you don’t see that at a restaurants much… When it came to our table, we were surprised by the size of the cookies, it was much bigger than expected. They were two fresh snickerdoodle cookies, and a glass of milk. The cookies were soft, moist, sweet, and I believe them to be fresh…it was SOOOOO good! If we had these for Santa Cause, I am sure we will have an extra special gift that Christmas. Now, the Buttermilk Pie, I heard how great it is, so I was excited to see it on the dessert menu. It is a simple sugar pie with fresh creme, but it was really great. Creamy, rich, sweet without being overly sweet, and the fresh creme is always a plus, and you can tell when they make their own creme instead of some store-bought type. The Bread Pudding is fried, and came with Granny Smith Apples, cinnamon sugar, topped with ice cream. It was a nice size, dense, rich, warm, and the cinnamon sugar sprinkled on the pudding and ice cream added that extra flavor which went perfectly with the apples. There were several chunks of apples in the inside, which was really nice.
You can see the size of each desserts here (and you can also see who else was excited over the desserts).
Overall, we really enjoyed out experience at the Rusty’s Southern, we would definitely go back and try out different items. I actually really enjoyed the fried chicken, I could see myself ordering the sliders again, and request them to leave out the hot sauce. That will be totally amazing… They had many more food items that sounded and looked really great, and people seems to really love this place, so I hope they will stay in business for a long time! Next time you are in SF, definitely give this place a try!
Rusty’s Soutern – 750 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94109