It sounds just like a movie: a former Disney employee and a former mayor team up to run their own theater. That's exactly what Jeff Brein and Sam Granato did in 1988 with Bainbridge Cinemas, where they still spend Friday and Saturday nights tearing tickets and scooping popcorn. Besides Bainbridge Cinemas, their theater collection—Far Away Entertainment —oversees seven other local theaters, including the historic single-screen Lynwood Theatre. Opened in 1936, Bainbridge Island's first talking picture house now specializes in independent features and foreign films in which actors rearrange the English alphabet to make strange new sounds.
Over at the two-screen Admiral Theater, projectionists give newer Hollywood releases a second run, plus host screenings every year for the Seattle International Film Festival. Far Away's five remaining theaters, each with three to five screens, show digital versions of Hollywood's freshest celluloid. Lean back in the Anacortes' reclining seats, or scarf down an all-beef frank at Oak Harbor while taking in a flick or live screening of the Metropolitan Opera.
Village Wines may primarily spotlight Northwest wines and beers on its weekly-rotating menu, but its food menu draws inspiration from all over the globe, while a high-end selection of pick-me-ups from Stumptown Coffee and Choice teas provide a boost any time of the day. Hot and cold shareable plates evoke tapas-style dining, although the flavors atop each dish range from Asian to French, along with a kids' menu for younger taste palates. Pizzas come topped with combinations such as goat cheese and prosciutto or Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce with pulled chicken. Bistro-inspired sandwiches include styles from around the world, such as an authentic french-dip au jus, helping tongues experience France without licking the door to the Louvre.
The bracing Italian-style brandy known as grappa flows from a vintage hammered-copper still and into oak barrels for aging at Soft Tail Spirits, a craft distillery that gathers its grape pressings from local Washington wineries. An Old-World still's 58,000-BTU burners boil up fresh batches of grappa, with characters of pear and apple-tinged Giallo and the pleasingly grainy sangiovese. Meanwhile, a multistep distillation process whips up batches of Soft Tail Spirits' sipping vodka, the slightly rebellious offspring of Washington State apples that took home the bronze at the 2010 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. Lead distiller Matthew welcomes visitors to the distillery for tours in which he shows off the facility, including the hammered-copper alembic he affectionately calls “Maggie,” before doling out samples and bestowing grappa converts with souvenir glassware for future bacchanalian feasts or Flat Earth Society meetings.
Recently renovated with a curved, 90-foot screen and new digital projectors, Seattle Cinerama uses the latest equipment to project new, mainstream releases in an elegant, expansive theater. Guests can sit in plush seats on the balcony or main level to watch crystal-clear feature films, pumped to audio life with Danley subwoofers so that every on-screen explosion rocks the seat and every Woody Allen monologue whips the hair back. Screening blockbuster films and 3-D features, the theater hosts dramas, comedies, and action-packed thrillers, including the soon-to-be-released Sucker Punch, a battle-laden fantasy flick. Moviegoers can also treat taste buds to one free popcorn of any size while feasting corneas on screen-spanning entertainment.
With its hand-blown glass light fixtures, beckoning fireplace, and old-growth walnut bar-top, VoVina’ cultivates an old-world elegance. The décor’s chic simplicity carries over into a menu of European- and American-style small plates, such as Angus beef sliders and black truffle tater-tots, crafted to complement dozens of tempting cocktails. The Fountain of Youth blends Bombay Sapphire, St. Germaine, and a touch of green chartreuse, and the Asian Pear arrives shaken and strained over a soft lychee. Further underlining the Jazz Age-feel, the bar touts one of the largest absinthe selections in the area. The legendary spirits are poured plain or blended into beverages, inspiring guests to dance the Charleston atop VoVina’s locally grown, recycled maple tables.
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