Brunch in San Francisco has become a readily available option for diners over the last few years. But despite new openings around town, Foreign Cinema constantly rates as one of the most popular spots each and every weekend.

“There has been a definite shift in the concept of brunch. At Foreign Cinema, we wanted to create a ‘happening’ in the sense of the 60’s art movement – people showing up and being part of something a little magical, a little hard to describe, except that there is a good vibe, something to receive, something to take away,” said Foreign Cinema chef and owner Gayle Pirie.

Dinner in itself is pretty spectacular at Foreign Cinema, from the terrific food to the beautiful, almost magical setting of a foreign or independent film being screened in the restaurant’s covered outdoor courtyard. Pirie said that despite the influx of “new blood” on the brunch scene, she hopes the restaurant can maintain its lofty perch.

“I’m knocking on all the wood around me now, because competition is stiff and quality-driven. But I care a lot about this particular expression of ourselves and my cooks care a great deal about the integrity of the food,” she said. “Plus, we are lucky to have an amazing site that inspires a perfect setting, be it near the roaring fire or in the plain air patio.”

With brunch being so popular at Foreign Cinema, diners can also sneak in next door at Laszlo if the wait is too long.

There are many popular items on the brunch menu but as Pirie said, the famed “Pop Tarts will never come off the menu.” She said their fillings will just reflect the season’s best jams.

And what goes into her brunch menu? “We wanted to show off the best eggs you could buy, prepared in the most sensual, appetizing ways – like the ultimate scrambled, the most sensual French-style omelet, sexy poached fried eggs and the most custardy, rich French Toast. You essentially put on a menu what you want to eat.”

Got your mouth watering yet? Pirie said brunch offers “an escape from life” and is a celebration of the weekend, enjoying great food, libations and perhaps most importantly, great company. Without a doubt, brunch at Foreign Cinema is the real deal and something that should be tried at least once.

Here’s the recipe for one of the staple brunch menu items – the Balsamic Fried Eggs.

Balsamic Fried Eggs

Serves 2


2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil

2 eggs

1 ½ tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Spicy lettuce (red mustard greens, watercress, or arugula), for garnish

1. In a nonstick or seasoned egg pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2. When the oil is hot but not quite at the smoking point, crack open the eggs into the pan and cook for about 25 seconds, keeping the heat medium.

3. As they puff up, baste the top of the yolks with the hot oil to help them cook.

4. After the eggs set, slide them onto a warm plate. Pour off any excess oil.

5. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, and let it sizzle and reduce slightly for a moment or two.

6. Drizzle the vinegar over the eggs.

Season to Taste

*This recipe is from Gayle Pirie and John Clark’s Country Egg, City Egg Cookbook

All the recipes in this book have been tested using kosher salt, an additive-free, mild, and clean-tasting salt. The size of the flakes gives you more control as you rub small pinches between your fingers. Kosher salt is not as strong as regular table salt and dissolves quickly into foods.

We season each element in the cooking process. For example, in the Onion and cider Omelet, we lightly salt the onions as they caramelize to bring out the full onion flavor; we then salt the eggs to enhance their flavor. Seasoning by steps delivers fuller flavors to the finished omelet. Taste at each stage.

Foreign Cinema is located at 2534 Mission Street in San Francisco and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-3:00.