I imagine it went a bit like this. The birthday gods got together and noticed that a few of my girlfriends and I hadn’t gotten together in some time. At the last minute, they cleared out all five of our schedules, flooded San Francisco with warmth and sunshine, and opened up a reservation at one of the hottest spots in the city, Foreign Cinema. I’m sure they were benevolently smiling down upon me — there’s just no other explanation for the gorgeous meal I shared with my brunch bunch this weekend.
Brunch could qualify as a competitive sport in San Francisco. People will wait upwards of 2 hours for a plate of French toast on weekend mornings, and I’ve counted myself among those poor souls too many times. Amazingly, however, there are still beloved restaurants that keep weekend dining civilized with reservations. We snagged a coveted outdoor table on Foreign Cinema’s patio — a space which, by night, transforms into a totally magical space, lit by string lights and the glow of its film projector. As it was, when we were seated, the skies were deliciously blue and perfect for picnicking.
We began with March fruit (kiwi, cara cara oranges, apples, Straus yogurt, mint, almonds, and honey); the app was refreshing and light, though I’d have preferred a bit more yogurt to balance out all that natural sweetness. To that end, though, we had duck liver pâté — unbelievably creamy, with an almost whipped texture, and an unctuous base for the bright tart cherry conserves and red wine vinaigrette salad.
Next up: mains. The two poached eggs and crisp duck leg confit with chicories, croutons and sherry dressing came perfectly cooked, with fall-off-the-bone meat and mesmerizingly runny egg yolks. Foreign Cinema’s French toast, made with a baguette and served with wild huckleberries and maple-tangerine butter, was also incredibly solid, though Zazie’s is still my gold standard (update: NOPA’s custard French toast reigns supreme). My only quibble is that it was difficult to restrain myself and share these portions among multiple people. It’s that good.
Our server didn’t put in our order for the nettle and champagne omelet until the very end of the meal, but we couldn’t care less once we had a bite of it. This wasn’t any ordinary egg dish; this was some elevated, pinkies-up breakfast fare. Impossibly tender and fluffy, the omelet melted away in layers of garlicky, buttery, tangy flavor.
We finished on a sweet note: the famed caramel pecan sticky bun, as shamelessly decadent and delicious as it looks.
I’ve been to Foreign Cinema for dinner service before, and the best word I can use to describe it is special. That holds true even during the day. The atmosphere is so beautifully clean, warm, welcoming and airy — and the seasonal New American menu fits the space to a “t.” Servers are sincere but busy, as the place is inevitably and understandably packed around the clock. I’ve got to thank the birthday gods for conspiring to get me a table here this past weekend. What more could a girl ask for?
(Well, I guess a girl could ask for more dessert. Once again, some higher power pulled through, as we tracked down delicious treats at nearby Anthony’s Cookies. The best birthday gift, I’d say, is having friends who’ll seriously consider getting an entire menu’s worth of cookies with you. Oh, I’m a lucky girl.)
2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110