We’re all familiar with the time-honored ritual of the dinner date followed by a movie. These days, a number of movie theaters combine the two activities by serving food and drinks right to your (premium priced) seats. Now, one restaurant in San Francisco has put its own interesting spin on these traditional evening activities.
I’ve been traveling for work a lot lately. I spent the latter half of last week in San Francisco to attend a conference at Dolby headquarters. For this one, I brought Mrs. Z along on the trip. We’d honeymooned in the city many years ago, and it was nice to go back together. Also, she’d been feeling that we’ve hardly seen each other very much the last few weeks. While I was busy at the conference, she entertained herself and scoped out things for us to do afterward. So I credit this find entirely to her.
In the city’s trendy Mission District is a restaurant called Foreign Cinema. The hook of the place is that, while you’re sitting down to eat your meal, a foreign film is projected onto the back wall of the dining area. If you’d like to listen, the wait staff will bring a drive-in theater-style speaker box to your table. Or you can just let it play in the background and not pay attention at all. While we were there, the movie of the evening was Guy Maddin’s ‘The Saddest Music in the World’. (I guess that Canadian cinema is enough to qualify as “foreign.”) The following night’s presentation was scheduled to be Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’.
Obviously, this is not designed to be a prime movie-watching experience. It’s a restaurant first and foremost, with people all around chattering away. The lights are up, and the seats aren’t even all arranged to face the screen. As you can see if you view the virtual tour on the restaurant’s web site, seating areas are divided into a outdoor courtyard (where the movie plays) and an indoor main dining room. Honestly, from my table indoors, I had to spin myself backwards and crane around a column just to get a peek at a portion of the image. (I gave up on that quickly.) The movie is only intended to serve as ambiance during the meal. Still, it’s a pretty cool atmosphere, and we both had a great time there.
We were told that the restaurant’s menu changes every day. If you happen to go when Curry Fried Chicken is on the menu, don’t miss out. It’s amazing.
One warning, though: This is a pretty swanky place, and not a cheap meal at all. Despite its location in an area that’s basically a recently-reformed slum, be prepared to dress nicely and spend a few bucks.
This is the first time I’ve seen a restaurant with this particular gimmick. If any of our readers know of others in different cities, be sure to post in the Comments section below.
Vaguely related note: While you’re in San Fran, definitely be sure to try the “Inside-Out Burger” at Spork (also in the Mission District). It’s to die for. I never want to eat any other hamburger again.