Today I was invited down to check out “Cinema’s” facelift. And the Donnelly group has recently closed down a few of their outlying public houses, so I was also interested in getting a look into this decision, through this reintroduction meal.

Donnelly group has been looking at its spaces and the neighbourhoods that they have been occupying. And the decision has been made to better align themselves to their demographic, which includes a more friendlier space and dynamic menu. “Cinema’s” focus is on the after work, downtown crowd, due to its corner street location. Lunch for a quick, inexpensive, and delicious meal. And then when after the dinner rush is over, the space opens up and the DJ spins the wheels until 3pm, catering to a completely different crowd. They do this considering the event that is letting out in the area, and those who have chosen to visit on any given night. The kitchen is open until 1pm on week days and 2pm on weekends, which is fantastic. I can not tell you how many times I wanted a late night meal, but there aren’t many kitchen open past 10pm.

Once a dark corner that only looked to host a more lively, after dinner crowd. Now an open space hoping to bring in the happy hour and hungry dining crowd. “Cinema” has recently torn down the wall that separated the bar from the booths, and expanded the patio to face Granville Street. And I can honestly attest to the fact that it does make a difference. The setting is looking more inviting. And because of it, the bar was busy at 5pm, a full house of rotating tables here for happy hour, like we were.

The menu gives you a deal on drinks with $5 beers and $6 wines from 3-6pm daily, and again Sunday to Thursday 9-1am. They don’t have food specials, but with $6-8 snacks, $10 sandwiches, and $12 pizzas and mains on their regular menu; you are saving each time you visit anyways.

We started with a couple of their signature cocktails. Like the “Shogun” featuring suntory toki Japanese whiskey, st. Germain elderflower liqueur, strawberry syrup, lemon, mint, and candied ginger. A nice warming beverage because of the ginger, yet cooling with the sweet fruit and citrus notes.

The “Funny Pages” was a great afternoon pick me up. Lot 40, cold brew, Jägermeister, and a golden graham milk syrup, it drank like a spiked coffee, sweetened with milk, sugary from breakfast cereal.

They also serve cocktails that they have borrowed from off other menus. Like “Naked and famous” from “Death & Co.” in New York. Sombra mezcal, aperol, yellow chartreuse, and lime juice.

And the “Sherry colada” from “Waydown Ace Hotel” in Chicago. Havana Club 7yr rum, amontillado, sherry, coconut syrup, fresh pineapple, and orange zest.

To eat, we shared a handful of dishes from their $6 snack menu, and had plenty for everyone. The “mozzarella sticks” were herb crusted and served with a marinara sauce for dipping. What’s there not to love? String cheese under a crispy, well seasoned shell, enjoyed as is or with a palate cleansing tangy dip into tomato.

My favourite was the house made “queso dip” with crispy corn tortilla chips. I would drink it like soup, but it is best coating doughy bread, like with the pretzel below.

The “Pretzel” was actually served with its own queso dip, but I would have preferred it with a spicy mustard option instead, or maybe both for a nice contrast. The dough was a little oily and the heavy handed coating of sesame seeds was either a hit or miss amongst our table. I personally liked the additional texture for its mouth feel.

The mini “Perogies” were a unanimous favourite. They were filled with cheddar cheese and topped generously with sautéed onions, sour cream, and green onions. It tasted exactly as how you’d expect it to.

The “Blistered snap peas” was an interesting menu item, or appetizer to be offered at a bar. But they were tasty, and spoke to the kitchen’s new direction: offering healthy options and vegetable friendly solutions, for a snacking, after work crowd. They were so simple, yet so good. Fresh snap peas seasoned with a Spanish chilli, lemon, and ricotta salata.

Similarly, the “shishito peppers” were a healthy, all vegetable option, that you didn’t regret eating. Seasoned in a red wine vinegar and lime. They weren’t spicy, but had more of a grill smoke to them.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Great food at good prices, in a newly renovated space. I liked everything I tasted, and it looks like they have something good on their hands, so expect such a menu will be rolled out to all their other properties in the near future. Don’t deny your cravings.

CINEMA
901 Granville St, Vancouver BC, V6B 2C9
604-694-0202
donnellygroup.ca/locations/pubs/cinema/