The Dinner: Curry clams, calamari, and a burger from 50 North , 5001 25th Ave. N.E., Suite 100.

The Movie: Friends With Benefits at Thornton


Mila Kunis Stars in the Same Movie as Natalie Portman (Again) and Outshines Her (Again) After a Meal at 50 North

The Dinner: Curry clams, calamari, and a burger from 50 North, 5001 25th Ave. N.E., Suite 100.

The Movie: Friends With Benefits at Thornton Place, 301 N.E. 103rd St.

The Screenplate: Did something happen on the set of the Black Swan where both leading ladies decided they needed to star in films where they both toe the line between friendship and romance?

I must say that I did enjoy Friends With Benefits much more than No Strings Attached. We know this plot well: Emma (Natalie Portman) Jamie (Mila Kunis) becomes best friends with Adam (Ashton Kutcher) Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and they decide to have sex, no strings attached, and remain friends . . . with benefits. They dance indecisively around one another, fall in love, act scared about falling in love, and participate in what seems to be an inconsolable fight. By the end of the movie, Portman Kunis and Kutcher Timberlake can't resist each other and they proclaim their unabashed love.

For being a movie with an overripe plot, Friends With Benefits was actually fun. Headhunter/recruiter Jamie persuades Dylan, an art director for a successful website, to leave California for the Big Apple to work at GQ. The sassy pair hits it off immediately (as "friends"), and they fall into the rom-com formula mentioned above.

And yet the movie remains charming with its self-deprecating (self-aware?) tone, with Jamie and Dylan constantly referring to the same formulaic rom-coms. There were some great one-liners, especially from Kunis (as one would expect from one of the stars, save for the ditzy Kutcher, of That 70s Show), related to "twat-blocking" (the feminist in me loved that) and other gems. There were even some life lessons thrown into the mix, most notably this loosely quoted one: "It's not who you spend Friday night with that's important, it's who you spend all day Saturday with."

Luckily, Kunis and Timberlake pulled off well this Friday-night-and-all-day-Saturday thing with their comedic banter and collection of sex scenes. While Timberlake's acting abilities leave room for improvement, the Kunilake chemistry didn't disappoint.

If Friends With Benefits was set in Seattle, Jamie and Dylan might stop by 50 North to continue their subtle self-mockery. Like the film, 50 North is trying to dress up a common concept. The U Village restaurant, which boasts "upscale American food," is reminiscent of a hotel restaurant or lobby with its green and purple décor. But like Friends With Benefits, the menu items--especially the burger and clams--show an admirable and successful attempt at putting a new twist on something old.

The burger patty is no normal patty: it's hand-formed and melt-in-your-mouth juicy, and sits among a colorful splay of tomato jam, greens, and ciabatta bread. And while curry clams weren't a common meal in my household, after inhaling just one of 50 North's buttery clams from its spiced soup bath, I knew that I wasn't eating just any set of clams.

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