Dinner & a Movie: Where Would George Clooney Eat?"/>
The Dinner: Sloppy Joe sliders, a Caesar Salad, and Maker's Manhattans at Von's (619 Pine Street) in the Roosevelt Hotel.
"Vera, if a nightcap at Von's doesn't lead to a roll in the hay, I don't know what will."
The Screenplate: In the smart, touching dramedy Up In the Air, George Clooney plays a man who spends 320 days a year on the road, tasked with firing people whose bosses don't have the gumption to do it themselves. The travel is hardly something he loathes; he's more at home in hotel rooms than he is in his own apartment, and his ultimate goal in life is to rack up enough frequent flier miles to join an ultra-exclusive American Airlines VIP Club that only six other individuals have earned entry to.
If George Clooney's character found himself in Seattle, he'd surely dine and drink in a hotel bar the night before he had to pink slip a few dozen Boeing machinists. So with his movie playing exclusively at a multiplex down the block from the Roosevelt Hotel's restaurant-lounge, Von's, that's where we plunked ourselves down on a chilly Monday evening.
The Roosevelt is a historic hotel, and Von's is equally historic, having first opened its doors in 1904. While it's easy to imagine Von's offered martinis and Manhattans back then, it's hard to imagine the restaurant had a dish called Flav'r Gusto 4 Herb Chicken Roast on its menu, the Bangles on its stereo, and industrial-strength kitsch like the door of an SPD cop car hanging from its ceiling. If Guy "Tex Wasabi's" Fieri were a Seattleite, this is the restaurant he'd open.
Von's menu is so insanely polyamorous that it's impossible to know what to trust. Hence, our strategy here was to select menu items with the least probability of getting fucked up, so we settled on the Sloppy Joe Sliders and Caesar Salad. Not only did these dishes not get fucked up, they were really good, and left a sufficient amount of stomach space for the main event: movie theater popcorn.
If you're one of those people who find this gluttonous delicacy impossible to resist once your ticket's torn, you know that it's unwise to go balls to the wall with the pre-movie fare. This goes double for theaters like Meridian 16 that have those butter machines over by the napkins and salt. Despite the fact that the DIY method guarantees that you won't get short-shrift on the golden grease, I've always preferred to let the pros behind the counter do it for me.
But the Meridian's butter machine has a weaker stream than most, thus allowing you to more meticulously pinpoint areas you want to drown. Be sure to ask the concessionaire to fill your bag halfway, giving you an intermission to butter up the lower layer before topping it off with more. And the fact that Meridian has salt packets, versus a shaker, allows you to freshly season your bag throughout the picture.
As for the film itself, it's hard to spot a weakness. Cast as the female lead opposite Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, the previously-unknown Vera Farmiga--a shoo-in for the next Ocean's sequel--proved herself exceptionally well-equipped to trade blows with the likes of the uber-cocky Clooney, who shows a vulnerability here that's only been hinted at in films like Syriana and Michael Clayton. But what makes Up In the Air more than merely a very good movie is the casting of comedic heavyweights like Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Zach Galifianakis, and Danny McBride in small but critical roles, to speak nothing of the most dead-on usage of Sam Elliott and his whisk-broom mustache since The Big Lebowski.