By Mollie McWilliams
By Molly Gore
By Pete Kane
By Pete Kane
By Anna Roth
By Alex Hochman
By Joseph Geha
By Anna Roth
Two excellent brunches became three when I took my parents and Lee to Absinthe on a Sunday morning when culture beckoned: the last day of a modernism photography show plus Vivienne Westwood at the de Young for Lee, and a chamber-music concert devoted to Bay Area composer Elly Armer at the Old First Church for us. To our amazement, there was ample parking on Hayes: We suddenly realized that the street had just reopened after Bay to Breakers.
Our luck held. Well, almost: My mother's Dungeness crab, sautéed with parsley and garlic, was sweet and silky and rather luscious. Lee's omelet, stuffed with big woodsy morels, English peas, a whiff of sage, and the genius touch of fresh white corn, was cooked just the way she liked it. My father enjoyed his smoked salmon, squiggled with pernod-dill cream, though he thought that its capers, rather than being fried, "should come straight from the pickling jar as nature intended." I was the only loser: My eggs, scrambled with an inexplicably dull combination of boiled navy beans, mushy artichoke ragout, and too-wispy, too-infrequent strands of Toscano salame, paled, especially since I'd chosen them over an Absinthe burger, corned beef hash with poached eggs, or grilled flat iron steak.
3316 17th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights
Foreign Cinema, open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m., Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday brunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (limited menu from 3 to 6 p.m.) and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (limited menu from 3 to 5 p.m.). Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: valet parking at dinner, $10; otherwise, street, difficult. Muni: 14, 49. Noise level: low to moderate.
Absinthe, open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight; brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., cafe menu from 3 to 5 p.m., dinner Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday until 10 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: valet $10 Tuesday through Sunday dinner, otherwise street, difficult. Muni: 16, 21, 47, 49. Noise level: low to moderate.
Biscuits and gravy $9
Duck confit hash $14
Mini mer seafood platter $28
Smoked salmon plate $13
Absinthe: Crab sautéed with parsley and garlic $17 half, $30 whole
Morel, pea, and corn omelet $14
Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission (at 21st Street), 648-7600, www.foreigncinema.com
Absinthe, 398 Hayes (at Gough), 551-1590, www.absinthe.com
But Absinthe rallied with a superb trio of tarts (chocolate-banana, cheesecake, and almond-raspberry), and a seductive assortment of cookies and confections, notably a bonbon filled with basil ganache and tiny pistachio-cherry muffins. We all wished we'd seen the cheese menu earlier: One of us would have certainly had the lavish cheese plate, five carefully garnished cheeses for $25, as our main dish. Next time, we agreed. Because brunch is, even at otherwise pricy places, an affordable luxury.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city