Dining Out: Cinetopia pairs dinner, movie in one place

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Why: Cinetopia’s movie complex offers a living room auditorium that pairs dining with a movie. Live music is provided in the theater balcony before shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Menu options are prepared in the same kitchen as Vinetopia, the attached restaurant, though the selections reflect simpler fare so moviegoers can be served promptly.

Seating is arranged mostly for couples. Chairs have foot rests and extra leg room, which enhances the living room aspect for a more intimate experience. There’s a pillow pit in the front of the auditorium for moviegoers that want to recline even further. Most seats have a cupholder tray, though they don’t have a place for bowls and/or plates that meals are served on.

What I tried: I decided on the Spinach Salad made with candied walnuts, goat cheese and grape tomatoes tossed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette. My dining companion tried the Curry Rice Bowl with Chicken. We both had the Chocolate Lava Cake for dessert.

Our food arrived within 10 minutes of placing our order. The ingredients in my salad were off balance — a large portion of spinach, hardly any goat cheese and a solid layer of cold diced chicken. The salad was not tossed in the dressing, as noted on the menu. There was a total of two grape tomatoes, which were halved. The walnuts, encased in a thick crust of sugar, didn’t taste fresh and were far too candied for my liking.

The Curry Rice Bowl is comprised of sautéed vegetables with the restaurant’s own Indian-style curry sauce over a bed of white rice. The chicken was the same cubed sort that was added to my salad (tofu is the other add-on option to this dish). Instead of arriving hot, the dish was only warm. My dining companion was dissatisfied with the overall flavor, which was so mild that curry was hardly detectable.

The Chocolate Lava cake was moist with a warm chocolate center that was the consistency of pudding.

Other menu highlights beyond what I tried: A Pulled Pork sandwich, Chicken Penne and Boneless Cinetopia Wings are also on the menu. An Artisan Cheese Plate which includes honey goat cheese, stilton bleu, Irish white cheddar, cranberry stilton and English cheddar with garni du jour may be a perfect pairing with wine to enjoy during a movie.

Other observations: On the Saturday evening of my visit, the pre-show balcony entertainment was a violinist. The music was delightful and set a good tone for a movie-dining experience.

I was shocked when the server brought the food for the gentleman sitting next to me — who had stepped away momentarily — and sat the plate, which was barely big enough for his order of a burger and fries, directly on the footrest. A french fry fell on the foot rest and when the gentleman returned the tub of ketchup that was teetering on his plate’s edge fell and also spilled onto the footrest.

Eating utensils are plastic. I found it odd to be eating a $12.75 salad out of a melamine bowl with a plastic fork.

I had water with my meal. Since I didn’t want an entire bottle, I asked for a glass. What I was offered was a “courtesy cup,” a small plastic cup that was hardly sufficient to accompany a meal.

Cost: Menu items range from $6.75 to $16.50. Pizza is available by-the-slice for $4.50 to $5.50 or $22.95 to $29.95 for a whole pie. Desserts are $7.95.

Hours: Movie times determine the hours. Visitors should arrive 40 minutes before showtime because seating is not assigned. Food orders are taken after 11:30 a.m. and up to 10 minutes before the movie begins. Cinetopia’s website lists showtimes and entertainment information.

Telephone: 360-213-2800.

Where: 11700 S.E. Seventh St., Vancouver; www.cinetopiatheaters.com.

Health score: Cinetopia received a score of 10 on Dec. 14. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.