AMC Esplanade 14 Dine-In Theater: Sneak Preview
|No longer the concession stand, the new lobby at the AMC Dine-In Theater is now a bar and lounge.|
|Blackened salmon with red mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies will be one of many upscale food offerings.|
In addition to new projectors, an all-digital experience, and crazy-plush seating, AMC Dine-In Theatres offers two meal-and-a-movie options, a bar and lounge, and for traditional movie-snackers -- bottomless popcorn.
I popped by for a sneak peak and sampled a few dishes.
|Fork & Screen theater seating.|
"Guests can grab a drink before the show, or after it, where they can talk about the movie," says AMC director of public relations Ryan Noonan.
|Bacon cheeseburger and fries.|
Nine of the location's 14 auditoriums, called "Fork and Screen" theaters, feature comfortable seating, entrees such as quesadillas, burgers, flatbread pizzas, grilled sandwiches and desserts, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty drinks. Guests must be 18 years old unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
|Cinema Suites seating.|
|Bistro chicken mac and cheese.|
Noonan tells me 20 to 25 percent of the seating has been taken out to make room for the more comfortable chairs and that plates and bowls are designed so they don't clink when the metal silverware hits them. Napkins are black cloth, not paper.
"We're not here to compete with other restaurants in the area," Noonan tells me. "For people who want to save time [eating while watching the movie], we offer something unique."
|Signature wedge salad.|
"Not many," Noonan tells me. "Most of the complaints we receive are typical of many movie theaters, like talking and cell phone use."
Director of theater dining and corporate chef Jason Henderson (formerly of the Applebee's chain) tells me the idea behind the food offerings at the AMC Dine-In Theatres is flavor and comfort offered at reasonable prices with the average spend at around 14 to 16 dollars.
"Most people like the hand-held food like our pizzas and burgers, but the bistro chicken mac and cheese is really starting to take off," Henderson says.
Because all nine of the theaters offer the same food, most of the ingredients come from a distribution center with the exception of the veggies, which are sourced locally. Most of the food is prepared on site, with the exception of a few of the dessert selections.
|Citrus berry stack.|
Snack items like the cheese sticks were underwhelming. I'd opt for popcorn instead.
Tickets for the new dinner-and-a-movie theater will be slightly more expensive (typically starting at around $14) than at other Valley moviehouses. And due to the smaller seating capacity, it's probably a good idea to make reservations online.
With its decidedly upscale offerings, the new AMC Esplanade 14 Dine-in Theater has set its sights on changing the way we typically go to the movies. I'm looking forward to putting what it has to offer to the test.
What do you say, moviegoers with the munchies? Would you pay the price? Let us know what you think.