Sinema is definitely known as an ideal date-night destination, but there’s more to this fine-dining establishment than a romantic dinner with your significant other. Indeed, locals should venture out to Sinema year-round to experience their in-house events, or perhaps they’ll be lucky enough to be invited to a private event taking place there. Still, if you prefer to keep things intimate, it’s worth noting that every dinner at Sinema is treated like an event in and of itself. Whether celebrating a milestone, enjoying a custom dessert or simply having your photo snapped at this Insta-worthy spot, dining at Sinema is an experience every Nashvillian should have.
The Melrose Theater, which opened in 1942, invited Nashvillians to dress to the nines for a night out at the movies. Quite a large time was had by all as much then as now, as today’s patrons visit for a nice meal in a glam space. As a dining destination like no other, the renovated landmark’s endless curtain calls began in 2014, and you can still feel the movie magic upon walking up to the marquee and through the front door. Designed by Kathy Anderson, the interior nods to its opulent days gone by with modern accents galore. Behind the velvet curtains downstairs, the main dining room features an open kitchen where Executive Chef Kyle Patterson and his team operate by the mantra that you should “eat with your eyes first.” The grand staircase that once led to the theater’s balcony is now The Lounge at Sinema, a full-service bar and lounge, which includes a cinematic-themed craft cocktail list and a selection of “cult whiskeys” rarely found elsewhere in Nashville — all in a rock ‘n’ roll-themed space.
This Summer’s Preview
Sinema’s summer blockbuster “Chefs Backstage at Sinema” is back for a repeat performance this summer. Taking place in Sinema’s private event space, this unrehearsed dinner series featuring Patterson and a cast of local culinary talent is “as much for our entertainment as for our guests,'” he says. “We take a movie theme or genre and dork out on it, creating an entire menu loosely based on the movie.” (Those who attended last August’s dinner with Chef Trey Cioccia of Black Rabbit are still talking about those tomahawk ribeyes — Cioccia and Patterson created a “Going West” feast fit for John Wayne himself.) Chefs Backstage meals are served family-style in the private dining room with a fun cocktail hour as well as playful dinner pairings. While the chef partners plan their roles for the upcoming season, taking place July 25, August 29 and October 24, mark your calendar now as the tickets will be limited.
While last summer’s “Movie Musical Mondays” series isn’t returning this year, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of other summer events happening in The Lounge set to launch June 1:
- 2-4-1 Tuesday (2-for-1 house beverages, wine & beer all night)
- Small Bites Wednesday (special tapas-style menu)
- Nite Cap Thursday (specially priced desserts & dessert/after-dinner drinks)
- Fizzy Friday (specials on cava and other sparkling delights)
A Box Office Hit Every Night
Indeed, Sinema’s casting is fit for the red carpet, and having the complete experience has a concierge feel to it when you have a culinary guide usher you through the evening. All you have to do is call ahead. “We’ve been known to pull a special experience off in less than 24 hours,” says Carly Houison, Sinema’s sales and marketing manager. She suggests starting with a specialty cocktail like the La Vida Loca on the mezzanine in The Lounge upstairs. Once the glow of golden hour fades, your culinary guide for the evening will escort you and your dinner date downstairs for the main event. Go ahead and slide into one of those oversized velvet tufted booths for dinner where the evening’s stars shine brightest.
You’ll never see a box of pasta in the house. In fact, Chef actually has his pasta recipe tattooed on his chest with the exception of one secret ingredient. Start with his famous agnolotti, a hand-formed ricotta ravioli with roasted mushrooms, sun dried tomato beurre monte and fried capers.
Opt for the beet and quinoa salad, aka “Austin’s Salad,” which features beets and quinoa with crispy shallots. Created by line cook Austin Calvo from The Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Arts at Nashville State, this dish is more vibrant than any colorized ’50s classic you’ve seen. Patterson found Calvo on Instagram and asked if he’d like to join him in the kitchen one night; these days you can see Calvo in the kitchen most nights alongside the rest of Sinema’s team.
Scallops perched atop spinach orzotto are a buttery delight, and the steak frites are a classic re-imagined. It’s important to note that Chef likes his butter. And when we say “likes,” we mean if you’re vegan or dairy intolerant, identify yourself and he’ll make you something special.
Dessert towers by Pastry Chef Jessica Bedor are also a big hit. Eyes bigger than your stomach? She creates an array of pretties meant for one. But, you can ask for an extra spoon or two and skip the guilt for goodness sake.
Prefer a matinee performance?
Nashville’s long love affair with brunch shows up at Sinema each Saturday and Sunday in a tremendous fashion. Patterson likes to think of brunch as his “melting pot meal.” His Bottomless Brunch starts with a bottomless Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar in the Art Deco lobby. Do not pass go at the grand staircase, where the Patisserie and Fried Chicken and Biscuit Bar demands your attention. There are actually numerous brunch stations scattered throughout the two-story historic theater while a classic Hollywood movie plays on the big screen. Just make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time and skip the limited walk-in situation.
While quality is more important than the local movement to Patterson, he’s proud to admit the two often coexist. Sourcing from area providers like Greener Roots, CC Gardens, The Bloomy Rind and Porter Road Butcher, he creates a feast of the senses every night of the week. His style is self-described “uncaged whimsy,” but he laughs saying his staff might describe him more of a “broody old hen.” Often you’ll see him with headphones on and getting into his own head. “I want my food to accompany a good night as opposed to the other way around,” he admits.
Truly, a good night or weekend morning is up to you. If you choose Sinema as the setting, it will be one worth celebrating, and an event undoubtedly to remember. But, before credits roll, make sure to snap that Instagram moment in the women’s restroom. It’s a thing. Trust us.
This article is sponsored by Sinema. All photography by Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography unless otherwise noted.