If restaurants have a season, Foreign Cinema's may be winter. The tall ceilings invite customers into the vast dining room, heated by a roaring fire in the wreath-adorned fireplace. Everyone seems perfectly comfortable on the outdoor patio, where space heaters fight the chill of the season, and staffers in cheerful sweaters breeze in and out to deliver bountiful plates. At brunch (served Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) the space is open and quiet, dotted with people sitting leisurely through courses instead of rushing onto their weekend errands. The mood is a bit lazy -- and perfectly indulgent, in true holiday spirit.
The weather calls for something more than water, whether it's a creamy latte or a cocktail. The Bloody Mary is bright but not too thick, with extra horseradish if you ask for a spicy one. For a twist try the Persian Bloody Mary, flavored with curry powder and lime -- either way, the beverage toppings of pickled onions, caper berries and olives are an antipasto on their own.
Weekend Picnic plates are true small bites, not first courses, meant to be shared between two to four people. If your group is large, you may want to order a few. Don't skip the Tuna Tartare Provencal ($13), crispy tortillas on top of tangy hummus, topped with tapenade, red pepper and a citrusy spread. It's a single bite, packed with surprising flavors that marry well.
For something sweet to start, the Cinnamon Coffee Cake ($4.50) fits the bill. It may not look like much on the plate, nestled in a decorate wrap, but the cake is warm and impossibly fluffy, with deep cinnamon flavors and a crumbly streusel topping. Even those who weren't sold on the order up front responded with a whispered, "Wow."
The Calamari a la plancha ($12) is another surprise, served naked in a brothy sauce unlike the traditional deep fried variety. The squid is pleasantly tender, not chewy, swimming in a bouillabaisse-like liquid with hints of pesto. Soft onions add a delicate sweetness to the dish, served with a side of grilled bread.
If eggs are your calling for entrees, it's hard to go wrong. The Balsamic Fried Eggs ($16.50) are a house favorite, thanks to the sweet and tangy vinegar, thinly sliced prosciutto and bitter chicories hiding under the mix. A potato and roasted garlic hash adds bulk to the meal -- in fact, all portions provide plenty of food without overloading.
The Wagon Wheel Omelet ($16) is on the lighter side, filled with creamy porcini mushrooms and Fontina cheese. According to the menu lager is in the mix as well, though it's hard to detect in the dish. The crispy potatoes wedges served alongside are doused in harissa -- a welcome change from often bland hash browns crying for some ketchup.
The Robust Persian Flat Omelet ($16.50) is probably unlike any omelet you've had before. The texture is souffled instead of densely eggy, and the omelet itself is strongly flavored with herbs (truly, it's green). As the name suggests, the omelet is presented in a single layer with everything else stacked on top -- avocado slices, a huge pile of crispy "straw" potato strips, sweet and spicy tomato chutney and chicken sausage with a kick. It's a medley of flavors and ingredients, but they work together nicely, if a little imbalanced; you may have to dig under the potatoes to get to those fluffy green eggs.
If lunch is more your speed, The Grilled Pacific Mahi-Mahi Sandwich ($16) is a good, light choice. The fish filet is pressed between two focaccia slices, topped with cabbage and a lime-flavored mayonnaise and accompanied by a side of fries.
No matter what you decide on, order a side of bacon for the table. The "Slow-Cooked Brown Sugar Bacon" ($6.50) is the only item listed in the Extras section of the menu, and it's easy to see why nothing else can compete. The thick, sweet and savory slices are just about perfect, crispy at the edges but delicately tender where bacon is usually fatty. Who knew bacon could quite literally melt in your mouth? This is the bacon that no one can, in good conscience, leave behind on a plate. And no one did.