“That movie theater salmon was tasty.”
Six words strung together that one would never expect to ever utter. And yet, here we are.
The story that led us to this point begins with Tracey, a co-worker of my husband, telling him about a destination within the Liberty Center complex — a massive, high-end shopping development in Liberty Twp. in Butler County.
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The location she was raving about is CinéBistro, a self-described “luxury dinner-and-a-movie theater with reserved seating, chef prepared cuisine, fine wines, cocktails and full in-theater service.”
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Dinner and a movie has been a classic combination for an evening out since Hollywood began entertaining us. At CinéBistro you can enjoy both at once. Being new to the CinéBistro format, here are a few quick pointers we learned along the way:
• CinéBistro is only for those 21 and older. There is another theater adjacent to it for families and those that don’t meet the age requirement.
• Purchase and reserve your ticket a day or two in advance to get the best seating. All seating is reserved, so planning ahead is more than a recommendation.
• You must arrive 30 minutes before showtime to enjoy in-theater dining service. Self-service is available at the concessions window if you arrive after this time. You’re missing out if you don’t get there to try the food, so plan accordingly.
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• Arrive even earlier to start the party with a drink at the CinéBistro bar and lounge that features a menu of premium cocktails and wines.
• The boutique theaters have luxury oversized seating, which means there’s a small crowd for each showing. The age requirement means there is far less distracting talk and movement during the movie. It was the first film in a very long time that I didn’t see the glow of a cell phone screen.
• An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to your check for in-theater dining only.
After going, I honestly don’t know that I would want to see a movie any other way. It was solidly good food and the opportunity to take in an unusually quiet first-run movie that felt like we were the only ones in the theater.
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My husband and I ventured down to try out the theaters “Tempting Tuesdays” promotion, which features a $9 movie ticket and a $20 three-course menu package.
We avoided the weekend crowds, the ticket was cheaper and $20 for three courses was a great value.
The promotion offers the choice between a classic Caesar salad or a Kale salad with almonds, dried cherries, shallots, radish and percorino vinaigrette to start.
Entrée options offer the choice of buttermilk fried chicken with mashed potatoes, back and cheddar waffle and honeyed Tabasco, blackened mahi-mahi tacos with black bean rice, a bistro burger, fettuccine al forno with prosciutto cracklin’s and spinach (add chicken for $5 or shrimp for $7) and the aforementioned seared Asian salmon with fried rice, yum yum sauce and classic unagi tare Japanese glaze. I had it and can confirm with great sincerity: that movie theater salmon really was tasty.
For dessert we chose from fresh berries with a bourbon custard or a caramelized banana cheesecake with a pretzel crust and cinnamon cream.
It’s not the best three-course meal you are ever going to have, but I am certain that it’s the best food you are ever going to have in a movie theater for $20. The presentations of the dishes were very well-thought out and impressive — too bad the theater got dark and we couldn’t admire it more.
From the main menu, the seared Wagyu beef sliders ($14) on buttered brioche rolls with sweet tomato jam and melted butterkäse German cheese served with a pile of onion straws were delicious and could make for a meal on their own.
If you want to get really fancy you can go for the lobster roll sliders with truffled frites ($18), a ribeye ($28) or a 14 oz. dry aged ribeye ($38) served with a roasted marrow bone.
Salad options include a sesame seared tuna on field greens ($16.50), Cobb salad ($15.75), Caesar salad ($10) or a marinated steak Niçoise ($19).
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Two very affordable sides that we tried were perhaps my favorite part. The smoky bacon collards ($4) were wonderful, delivering on the smoke and bacon in equal measure that it promised. The crispy brussel sprouts ($9) with caramelized onion and feta were amazing. Even more amazing that I was able to enjoy them in a movie theater.
DESSERT AND DRINKS
Dessert options abound including a butterscotch Bourbon crème brûlée ($9), Cinéful chocolate cake ($9.50), deconstructed peanut butter pie ($9), pineapple upside down cake ($8.50) or the caramelized banana cheesecake ($8.50) that was offered in the “Tempting Tuesdays” promotion the night that we went to try it.
Just as options from a premium bar are available, premium coffees can be ordered and all can be served iced. All the movie theater candy essentials can be ordered, as can popcorn ($7.50) and sodas, which come with complimentary refills.