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Now you can enjoy two of life’s pleasures—dinner and a movie—in one comfortable Sarasota space: the new CinéBistro in Westfield Southgate mall. The experience is similar to dining from a TV table at home while you watch something on HBO, but it’s much more luxurious.

There are a dozen CinéBistros around the United States. In Sarasota, the latest city to boast one, the theater has seven screening rooms. All keep the numbers of guests under 100. You take your seat in an oversized, soft leather recliner—one of the best aspects of the experience. A contoured tray swivels into position when your food arrives. Seat-side service by uniformed servers is prompt and amiable.

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You need to arrive 30 minutes before showtime to place your order, because food service stops when the movie begins. If you want a beverage or snack after the feature film begins, you can do what you’ve always done and go to the concession stand in the lobby. And, of course, you don’t have to order food at all.

Guests under 21 are permitted at shows beginning at 6 p.m. or earlier; only guests 21 and over after 6 p.m. The staff does check IDs. This means no turbulent tots will spoil the sipping of your hand-crafted watermelon mojito, which costs $10.50. Other cutesy specialty drinks are tied to movie themes. For instance, there’s a High Noon (named for the legendary cowboy movie with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, 1952) that’s a riff on a margarita for $12.75.

You can order beers and wines by the glass or bottle and plenty of other cocktails, too.

The movie ticket price ($15 for adults) is separate from the meal that gets served to your reserved seat. You can go to the theater—or the website—ahead and choose your seat. It’s worth doing this, especially for popular films, so you can be assured of getting a good seat. 

The menu is modern American bistro, and it’s wide-ranging while adhering to expected favorites such as steak, fries and a star-turn hamburger. The piled-high burger is made with ground Angus short rib, brisket and chuck and is both succulent and fully loaded with cheese, onion, lettuce and tomato. And the bun is just the right size and texture. This is a really good (and messy to eat) burger. With a side of fries, it’s $13, but there are up-charges for add-ons.  A 12-ounce ribeye is $28. I tried the miso-glazed cod for an entrée ($26), which was accompanied by a lovely edamame risotto enlivened by a few sriracha pearls for $26. It was excellent.

Fried popcorn shrimp, chicken or calamari are cleverly served in a popcorn box. Vegetarians will be glad to see a vegan hummus plate, or the curry-spiced cauliflower steak ($16), as well as a nice variety of salads. You might be interested in a glamorous cold seafood platter for two ($30), the ahi tuna ceviche, or seared scallops with basil brown butter. Everything is made in-house and there is an executive chef in the kitchen. If you want to nibble rather than dine, try the flatbreads, beef sliders, smoked fish dip, ahi tuna ceviche, Korean barbecued chicken wings or tubs of popcorn.

For a full meal—appetizer, entrée, drink and dessert—the swivel table isn’t really big enough. Everything you order comes to your seat at the same time before the film begins, and it stays there for the duration of the entire movie. My cod was delicious but I was plagued by the lingering aroma during the film. I spread my napkin over the plate and pushed the table as far away as I could. Next time, no fish.

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Besides eating inside the screening rooms, CinéBistro has a 150-seat full-service restaurant and bar in the lobby. It’s a handsome venue fitted out with tables, booths, a long stylish bar and outside seating, too. You could go there for lunch or dinner without any thought of seeing a film. The food holds its own, and the lounge is similar to one in a quality hotel.

The Verdict CinéBistro is the modern way to enjoy dinner and a movie in high style. The American bistro menu is well executed, and with a full bar and big leather recliners, this is a natural for date night. Not inexpensive, but a pleasurable celebration of food and flick.

CinéBistro

3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (Westfield Southgate)

(941) 361-2456

Credit cards: All major cards accepted

Handicapped accessible; MALL Parking; FULL BAR

Food served in screening rooms and in separate restaurant (indoor and outdoor seating)

CineBistro.com

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