New Tin Theater Offers Acrobats, Scheduled Cocktails, and Perfectly Grilled Meatloaf

Burien's answer to Belltown's Big Picture.
The Dinner: An entree of grilled meatloaf, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and tomatoes; a smoked salmon, crostini and horseradish cream cheese appetizer; three pints of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; three Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; and a box of popcorn at the Tin Room in Burien.

The Movie: Man on Wire at the conjoined Tin Theater in Burien. (The Hangover is now screening, through July 21.)

The Screenplate: The Tin Theater, an ambitious attempt to transform the old Dan the Sausageman space into Burien's answer to Belltown's Big Picture brew-and-view, was initially supposed to have been completed by the end of 2009. That didn't happen, and soon, it was anyone's guess as to when (if?) the space, connected to the Tin Room, a popular neighborhood bar and bistro with a stronger-than-you'd-expect Latino influence on its menu, would actually open.

Finally, last month, it did. And boy oh boy, is it worth the wait.

The theater is subterranean, and seats maybe four dozen patrons, with SRO accounted for. It still smells new, and feels like your richest friend's media room, or whatever it is rich people call their home theaters. While the Big Picture serves champagne on ice and shows first-run films, the Tin Theater serves draft beer and seems to be opting for the "shit you can already rent at Blockbuster route"--and is hence more aligned with the McMenamin's-perfected brew and view ethos. Mondo ups: You can leave a credit card with the bartender and tell him, "I'd like a beer at the halfway point," or "I'd like a beer delivered to my seat every half hour," and he'll oblige. They also have delicious, affordable, strong cocktails. If Burien weren't more affordable than Belltown, something would be amiss.

The Tin Theater's films are show a week at a time, so by the time you read this, you'll have to rent Man on Wire. But by all means do. If there exists a gutsier man in human history, war heroes exempted, than Philippe Petit, who illegally mounted a tightrope between the then-just-built Twin Towers (RIP) in New York City and then walked across it, with nothing to cushion his fall (if he were to have fallen, which he didn't), I've yet to hear about him. He was arrested immediately upon abandoning his wire for the safety of a cement roof, but got off with a slap on the wrist and became an instant celebrity.

Some might call Petit a nut, and there's a strong case to be made on that front. But to be truly great, one must be singularly consumed with his or her goal, thus creating a fine line between nuttiness and genius. In achieving his goal, Petit fell on the sunnier side of that line, and his story is brilliantly retold by documentarian James Marsh, in a style reminiscent of the great Errol Morris'.

Upstairs from the theater is a bar, whose bartender doubles (triples?) as ticket vendor and concessionaire. It is really the second bar, separate but equal, of the beloved Tin Room. A grumpier, thriftier diner might consider their dishes to be a bit overpriced, but that this outfit continues to thrive in an underdog, middle-class suburb like Burien is almost as much a miracle as Petit's high-wire act. While downtown Burien has made great strides in attracting fresh tenants over the last decade, its supposed crowning jewel, the Town Square development, has proven a catastrophic dud.

But that's new Burien, with Ambaum as the dividing line. West of that road is Olde Burien, which will be hosting a block party on Saturday, July 17, from noon-midnight. There will be sausage- and ice cream-eating contests, as well as a set or two of classic rock covers by the Evin Rudes, the County Line's former house band. And don't forget the fucking Burien City Ballbangers. Best. Band name. Ever.

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