True Grit and Foreign Cinema
(San Francisco, Day 2, Part 2)
We grabbed a cab to head to Foreign Cinema - a restaurant we have been to once before (on the last SF-vacay) and were completely blown away by. Last time we dined at Foreign, it was night time and they played old films on projectors on some of the walls. FC is very modern in structure, vibe, cuisine, and aesthetic-setting - exactly the kind of place I like to eat.
This time around, the sun was still up and the restaurant looked completely different - it was amazing inside; the skylight in the half outdoor/indoor eating area in the center of the restaurant was filled with natural light, and the very minimal but still very warm decor of the interior surrounding the patio-area was sleek and cool. From memory, I would say picture a rustic gastro-pub?
I started with the True Grit cocktail (damn you San Francisco and your amazing drinks) which was 7 leguas repasado tequila, ginger liqueur, fresh lime, and grapefruit, with a coarse and spicy salt and pepper rim. Ash opted for the Notorious, which had muddled lemon, sweet vermouth, nolet gin, luxardo, brandied cherry garnish, served up. Both were exactly what we dig as far as cocktail bases go (we’re both not really into vodka cocktails - and don’t get me wrong - I enjoy good vodka, but as far as cocktails go: gin and tequila win.)
Our starters included the Redwood Hill Goat Cheese baked on a fig leaf, with walnut sauce and cracked green olives. This place was already pulling out the big guns - the savory goat cheese matched perfectly with the fig-flavor from the fig leaf; the walnut and green olives all meshed with it in perfect harmony… those house-made crostini were crunchy without being over-crackly and flakey. We also had the Chilled Asparagus and Fennel Soup with cucumber relish - the essence of a mildly-flavored asparagus, just a hint of fennel-flavor in there, and the neutralizing cucumber made this thing good enough to put in a cocktail glass.
It may have already been overkill on the starters… but when in Rome right? I ordered the Hog Island Clams and Merguez Sausage, with romesco, tomato, and aioli. Correct me if I’m wrong on the influence, but I am completely into the Portuguese influence of mixing clams and sausage in any restaurant; I have seen this before at Avec in Chicago, but I know it was more so very Spanish-influenced in that place.
We were both going red meat for the mains, so our waiter (who was super nice and very informative on everything that was Foreign Cinema) recommended the Mourvedre La Galantin Bandol, Provence 2000 Red to go with our mains - ridiculously delicious wine.
Middle Eastern and Mexican are probably up there with Japanese food as far as my favorites in life, so the Souk Spiced Lamb Kabobs with hummus, couscous, meshweya salad, and cucumber raita was a godsend. I think I like lamb more than cow - and I am a huge fan of game-y flavors; I am always let down when a restaurant masks a lamb’s flavor to appeal to the well-done-steak-orderers at a restaurant - but this was lamb as it must be in a Middle-Eastern/Moroccan-inspired dish. It takes me to all those delicious street-meat carts around the world that serve the mystery-spit kabobs that you get at 2am from far too much boozing… only gourmet, local, and deconstructed.
Ashley’s main was the Grilled Rosemary-Ajwaan Bavette Steak, with fingerlings potatoes, asparagus, and Argentine salsa. With everything we ordered that night - we could see that FC was totally their own thing and very San Francisco, while completely embracing the influences of other countries cuisines. Both mains were perfect.
At a place like this (or anywhere for that matter of any trade in the world) I feel it’s really important to be good to those who are serving or who work at the place of business you’re at - I try to always befriend or at least be friendly to whoever is working the table that night at whatever restaurant I am dining at. So by this point - since going off his recommendations (which, in a great restaurant, it’s always a good idea to go off the recommendations of your server (if you like all sorts of food) since they have to try everything themselves) he decided to bring us a little extra thing for “being good people” as he said. The gift was Watermelon and Strawberry Granita. Godly.
I am really into going for desert after a great meal, and into fruit-based things - and this granita was something really special. Just the pure taste of strawberry and watermelon - in an icy-form. The other desert that I insisted on having was the Bittersweet Chocolate Cake, with fleur de sel (sea salt), caramel sauce, and creme anglaise. The intense dark chocolate cake (which was a nice dry-texture in comparison to what could have been a moist-textured cake) meshed fantastically with the sweetness of the caramel and creme and sea-salt. A perfect conclusion.
Foreign Cinema, like San Francisco, is a melting pot of influences from around the world - while still being very contemporary SF. I needed to be rolled out due to the amount of food and booze I had just consumed. Fantastic night.