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Friday, June 8, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Restaurant Review

Aurora Cinema Grill serves up a good movie-meal deal

Special to the Seattle Times

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Dinner and a movie. It's the classic date-night scenario, but imagine if you could do both at the same time. Think of it. No arguing over whether to eat before or after the show, or where. No need to make conversation over dinner. The baby-sitting fee is cut in half. But say you only want popcorn: There's a table to put it on, and you can chase it with a pitcher of beer, a glass of chardonnay or a root-beer float.

Aurora Cinema Grill


American

$

Recommended

130th Street and Aurora Avenue North, Seattle.

206-364-8880.

Hours: Show times from 2-9 p.m. daily. Kitchen opens half an hour before the first show and closes half an hour after the last show ends. Call for movie listings and times.

Major credit cards/no smoking/beer and wine only.

What a concept! And soon there may be more places like Aurora Cinema Grill, which opened as a triplex dinner theater in August 1999. Cinema Grill Systems of Atlanta is franchising the idea, and the Seattle location, which it owns, is something of a test site.

Film fans and foodies may be equally skeptical of the notion. Let me reassure both camps. Servers come and go discreetly, and while the kitchen won't win a James Beard Award, the food is OK.

The menu is surprisingly lengthy and filled with the kinds of things you'd want to munch on at the movies: buffalo wings, cheese plates, pizza, sandwiches, salads and, of course, popcorn. Wine is available by the glass or bottle. Beer, from Miller Lite to Guinness Stout, comes by the 10-ounce mug or the 64-ounce pitcher, by far the better deal if you plan on having more than one mug. Another note for the budget conscious: Admission to the theater is $4 before 5 p.m., $6.50 after.

Each screening room is cleverly designed with one aisle dividing graduated bays that each allow for counter or table seating. Chairs are not only cushy, they are movable and they swivel, so the sight lines and the amount of leg room is under your control. If the theater isn't as dark as you'd like for viewing, blame the state liquor control board, which mandates a certain level of light for places that serve alcohol.

Aurora Cinema Grill doesn't get many kid flicks. It's a place for grown-ups. That's evident from the moment you enter the shiny silver-and-blue lobby, actually a bar and lounge, where most weekends a bartender stands ready to whip you up a champagne cocktail or a cappuccino.

Dinner and a movie. It may never be the same again.

Check please

Athenian salad: Tangy, sharp feta blankets this overflowing bowl of chopped romaine, tomato, onion, green pepper and a generous handful or two of Kalamata olives. It's crisp, cold and garnished with three plump pepperoncini. A well-balanced, herbaceous vinaigrette comes on the side. Only problem, it's tricky to eat in the dark.

Small shrimp scampi pizza: The crust is thin but respectable. Limp shrimp, however, lend a fishy taste to an otherwise lovely combination of garlic, basil, mozzarella, provolone and spinach.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Athenian salad $ 7.50

Small shrimp scampi pizza 12.25

Mug of Mac and Jack's 4.25

Glass of pinot grigio 5.50

Subtotal 29.50

Tax (9.1%) 2.68

Total food 32.18

Two movie tickets 13.00

TOTAL 45.18

Providence Cicero can be reached at providencecicero@aol.com.

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