Cafe Society

Cinebarre: Turn up, tune in, drop cash

For me, going to the suburbs for anything is like taking a spaceship to a distant planet populated by strange aliens and strip malls. Still, on occasion I'll haul my shorts out to an outlying town. In this case, it was Thornton, because I'd heard that Cinebarre has movies, booze and food -- all at the same time. For me, that sounded a lot like watching a movie at home, except the fried pickles a Cinebarre would probably be better than mine, and I'd have to put on clothes and shoes. Cinebarre is a single-space movie theater/restaurant/beer and wine bar with five locations, which has been operated by Regal Entertainment Group (the largest U.S. theater chain) since 2007. I ventured out to the Cinebarre at 10001 Grant Street in Thornton, which seems to be the place where everyone's parents live, to have cocktails and grub while watching Ted. This is mostly a vehicle for Seth McFarlane to flout the FCC and play a foul-mouthed teddy bear, and I'm a fan of enjoying chicken fingers and toilet humor at the same time.

This Cinebarre building is enormous, with a big lobby space with walls plastered with various movie posters leading to a small ticket booth. The regular adult movie tickets are $10, $7 for matinees, children, seniors, military and students (Sunday through Thursday only); ticket specials are available at certain times on certain days; and children under three are not allowed except at specified "Cry Baby" showings, when parents can bring their sitter-less, screaming toddlers and try to watch movies with other people's wailing offspring. (I'd rather not eat my supper and watch a movie surrounded by ankle-biters -- if I wanted that, I'd fly coach more often.)

Here's how the food part works: You take your tickets, go to the theater showing your movie and find seats; in front of them are sturdy, bench-like tables stocked with menus, pens and ordering pads and basic condiments like ketchup. You scope the menu, fill out an order card/paper, and place it on one of the rails above your table space. While the previews are running, servers come around to greet everyone and take orders (they'll check your ID if you're ordering alcohol), then zoom off like cracky rabbits.

The menu is full of amusing, spoofy movie names for drinks and dishes like Some Like It Hot Wings, Children of the Popcorn and the Lolita Margarita. I ordered a Donnie Daquiri ($6), Goldfingers ($10), Big Lebowskies ($8.50), Arabian Nights ($7.50), and the Barbarella ($13) with a side of Soylent Greens ($8).

My efficient server couldn't have moved any quicker if she was wearing a jet pack. It was dark in the theater, and I finally saw a need for those athletic shoes with the lights, a decade after they were cool.

Ted started, and although I don't want to be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, there is really nothing better on a weekend night than watching an obnoxious, pot-smoking, positively sewer-mouthed teddy bear say and do some really f*cked up things.

It took about ten minutes for my drink to arrive, and it tasted funny -- not bad-funny, but odd-funny. My server explained that since the theater only has beer and wine, the daiquiris are made with wine rather than rum, so I got a strawberry wine slushie that really didn't need a lime garnish so much as a clearer description on the menu.

The food came ten minutes later, and I was severely falling in lust with the Big Lebowskies: breaded, deep-fried pickles with housemade ranch dressing. The portion was small for the price, but they were well-made with a light, crisp breading over medium-thick dill pickles, and it was refreshing to see a place actually make ranch instead of buying that thick, gurbling, over-mayoed crap in the big tubs.

Goldfingers were three fried chicken strips with dipping sauce -- I got barbeque sauce and more ranch -- and a small cone of shoestring fries. Again, it was a relatively small portion for the price, and while both the chicken strips and fries were decent, they were nothing special.

Roasted red pepper hummus, house-baked pita chips, a small side of tzatziki sauce and a slightly larger side cup of diced tomatoes, cucumber and red onion made up the Arabian Nights appetizer -- another disappointment. The menu had promised a "Mediterranean veggie mix" rather than "small cup of pico de Greek-o." The hummus was pretty bland, and there weren't enough of the rather soft pita chips to handle the three dips.

The Soylent Greens was a surprisingly large salad topped with red onions, black olives, fresh mushroom slices, sliced green peppers, diced tomatoes and shredded mozzarella cheese -- but was a little pricey for a salad without more substantial protein. The best deal: The Barbarella pizza, which came topped with fresh sliced tomatoes, free basil and fresh buffalo mozzarella. The pizza was a ten-incher with a medium-thick, biscuit-y crust, and it was loaded with toppings.

Compared to other movie theaters that peddle wallet-wrenchingly expensive concession foods that are no better than bad gas-station and/or mall food court fare, Cinebarre is a refreshing change, with actual food and some alcohol. The eats and drinks aren't cheap here, either, but that old adage about paying for the convenience applies to Cinebarre, since you can veg out, watch a film, eat and go broke getting blasted on expensive wine slushies, all in the same chair.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz