Foreign Cinema - San Francisco

2534 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Chefs: Gayle Pirie and John Clark

If you walk alongside Mission Street, you might just pass on by Foreign Cinema, thinking it was some independent film theater. But once you open the door, you will walk through the long walkway, lined with red carpeting and lighted candles, to an open-air restaurant.

The current chefs are Gayle Pirie and John Clark - talented and innovative chefs who have long standing tenures at Zuni Cafe and Chez Panisse. Their California/Mediterranean-inspired menu changes daily.

The high ceilings, modern concrete walls, unique chandeliers, and chic decor make the interior of this restaurant exert a hip, contemporary, yet relaxed mood among the patrons. Right outside is the outdoor courtyard where foreign and independent films are screened. We missed the showing 'La Vie en Rose' because we came before sundown which is when the films are shown. Baked fromage d'affinois: summer truffle, roasted potatoes, toasts, summer greens (12).
I felt there was too much happening on this plate. We had the garlic toasts, baked fromage with olive oil, balsimic vinaigrette romaine lettuce and roasted potatoes. I would have been quite content with the cheese and toast. The summer truffle flavor was pretty much non existent in this dish. But surprisingly, the balsimic flavor went well with the baked cheese. Seared sea scallops, romesco, tortilla wiskers, lime, spicy house pickles (12).
Somewhere beneath the tortilla wiskers are 2 seared sea scallops. I was a bit hesitant in ordering this dish because of the lime and spicy house pickles. Sounds like a Mexican dish. But the chefs did a great job in melding the flavors together for this spicy and robust dish.
New Zealand cockles & chorizo, potatoes, tomato broth, basil, aioli, croutons (13)
The basil-infused tomato broth was so delicious that I had to ask for more bread to soak up the broth. The aioli was drizzled on a few of the cockles only and wished I could have tasted that more.
Grilled Kobe bavette steak, cranberry beans, tomatoes, arugula, lemon, pecorino (28)
I am always curious when I see Kobe beef on a menu. I have never tried actual A5 grade Kobe beef and maybe never will, but for now this other Kobe will have to do. I have no idea what a bavette is so I looked it up. Bavette is more common in France and is basically a skirt or flank cut of meat. This dish was actually excellently prepared with just the right amount of seasoning and the right ingredients. The steak was actually pretty tender and had a nice beefy flavor. The only thing that I didn't care for was the cranberry beans but that is just me and my bias against beans.
Northern halibut cooked in a fig leaf; summer vegetables, shelling beans, basil sauce (25)
My Mother ordered this dish so I can't comment on it too much. Very delicate flavors.

Moroccan seafood tagine: snapper, cod & local squid; couscous, aioli, fingerling, yellow beans (25) - My Father ordered this dish so I can't comment on this one either. He really seemed to enjoy it though. Lavender pork chop, white corn & fava beans, summer truffle, black chanterelle sauce (25). This was my brother's dish. He said the meat was tender and very moist. Each bite was very flavorful, yet a bit on the salty side.

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