Gayle Pirie & John Clark

foreign cinema san francisco

San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema is an eclectic mix of food, art and culture. At the helm are Bay area dining legends Gayle Pirie and John Clark, both veterans of the industry.  In 2001 Pirie and Clark took over Foreign Cinema’s kitchen, where they initiated a California-Mediterranean inspired menu. Now, the menu changes daily, resulting in a diversified and exciting venue. Pirie and Clark emphasize film and art just as much as they do food, screening foreign and independent films in the restaurant’s outdoor courtyard, as well as collaborating with Modernism West (an art gallery in collaboration with Martin Mueller) on private dining and showings. The two also reign over mid-market theater district favorite – Show Dogs – a restaurant that has revitalized the area, bringing it back to its former glory. These two have proved they see dining as an experience rather than just an execution of cuisine, making them restaurateurs The New Potato couldn’t resist covering.

Describe your ideal food day…

Gayle: Dim Sum at Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville. Late lunch of oysters at Nick’s Cove in Marshall [CA]. Dinner at Coi.

John: A day without food is my ideal food day! By the end of the week I’ve had enough!

What’s your drink?

Gayle: An epic Sancerre, with  full minerality, medium acidity, and the frivolity of apricot blossoms – My drink at Foreign Cinema. For harder drinks, I am quite partial to the Old Way Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s, the Scotch “fizz” at Locanda, or The Song Remains the Same at Foreign Cinema—a signature blend of aged Scotch, Cherry Heering, a drop of lemon infused honey, with a scent of orange. Very soothing, straight to the brain.

John: “Manhattan” or a “Blood and Sand.”

What would your last meal be?

Gayle: Foreign Cinema’s Brandade, Fried Washington Oysters, Kale Caesar with Radishes, Piave, Croutons.

John: Can’t answer that one…

How do you start your day?

Gayle: Packing lunch for Pearl (my daughter). Making breakfast for Magnus (my son). School taxi. Four barrel coffee, hopefully the gym by 11:00am.

John: Making breakfast for our children, coffee, off to school, on the phone with our forager.

Favorite place to travel for food?

Gayle: Niloufer Ichaporia’s house for anything she wants to cook. Niloufer is a cookbook writer here in San Francisco and provides inspiration on many levels.

John: New York is always inspiring to me.

What ingredient do you consider overrated? 

Gayle: Sweet breads

John: Foie Gras

What ingredient are you convinced makes everything better? 

Gayle: Sea salt

John: Salt

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