and the Nominees are …
By: Angela Clack
If you love the movies like I do, you’re thrilled with all that is now offered in theatres. Going to the movies is now more efficient and more comfortable than ever before: you can buy your ticket days before you plan to go, you can choose a setting completely free of children, you can also choose how you want to see and hear the movie, there’s standard, 3D, AVX and IMAX viewing. Even the seating has changed at some theaters. Now, you can reserve the exact seat that you want, it’s no longer a free for all. You can get seat 7 on row F and depending on the theatre, you can reserve standard seating, or choose a D-Box experience that adds the motion of the movie to your experience. In a D-Box you can recline, and at some venues, you have the additional comfort of one of the theatre’s blankets. Going to the movies has become a luxurious, customizable experience. As a movie addict, I love it.
The other element that is vastly improved is movie fare. Popcorn is still king and all of the traditional offerings are still there, including the overpriced, underfilled boxes of Raisinettes, the pretzels, the soda pop, some sort of pickle in a bag, nachos and the one item I’ve never agreed was appropriate for the theatre, ice cream. There’s always been a selection of midway quality food items sold as singles and in combos.
Competition has driven theatres to a place where they recognize that they must offer high quality meals and include top of the line cocktails. Here are my thoughts on some of the best items offered by local and regional theatres:
The Bijou Cinema Bistro at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall. It sounds a little schmancier than it actually is. It’s candidly in need of a remodel, but it is a great place to see movies not showing at most of the bigger theatres. Thankfully, kids aged twelve and under are barred so there’s no risk that someone’s infant will cry out as you are immersing yourself in Natalie Portman’s riveting portrayal of Jackie. Best of all, the Bistro has San Antonio’s best frozen margarita. It’s not simply the best movie theatre frozen margarita, it is the best frozen margarita, period. The Bistro’s café puts out good quality meals which you can order from a wait person after entering the theatre or enjoy in their small café lobby.
The Alamo DraftHouse Cinema really embraces movies often theming their pre-show presentations and lobby visuals to match the film you’ll be enjoying. Known for their impressive selection of draft beer, the Draft House menu is amazing. Non-alcoholic items include brown sugar lemonade and an amazing ancho chocolate shake.
Odd as it sounds, you can get a brussel sprout pizza but don’t panic we’re talking brussel sprouts with smoked bacon and goat cheese. There’s a Philly cheese steak prepared properly with rib eye. You can customize a wrap or salad choosing chicken steak or tofu then select a style from Greek to Mexican to Caesar simply by jotting your choices down on a slip of paper and placing it so that the servers can see Menu specials are updated every three months.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has a zero tolerance rule for cell phones during movies. They pride in turning doing PSA’s for great causes because they do not want anything to disrupt their customer’s show experience.
I-Pic Theatres bills themselves as “your ultimate night out” and I have to agree. Entering the IPic is like entering a club. The setting is chic, far removed from a typical movie theatre, with a full and elegant bar. There’s intimate high boy and couch seating alongside a number of tables with mini-screens embedded showing movie trailers. Besides the extraordinary movie experience that includes a fully reclining chair, storage for your handbag, a blanket and pillow and what I like to call “the magic button.” It is a button that summons a member of the staff to bring another bag of fresh, warm popcorn, another craft-quality cocktail or another item from their menu which was crafted in conjunction with top chefs. I don’t know any other theatre that serves lobster rolls. IPic’s Austin location also serves a Filet Slider Trio with filet mignon, caramelized onions, arugula, crumbled blue cheese on garlic toasted brioche buns. There’s lots of the really good “bad” stuff that we all love. Truffle fries. Who thought of that? And, there’s the very best of the dessert transgressions, red velvet bread pudding.
Casa Blanca is Santikos latest San Antonio area theater, located near the growing Alamo Ranch area and referred to as an “entertainment epicenter” featuring 16 movie screens. The theatre not only includes dining but has a 16-lane bowling alley and an arcade and high energy sports bar. Casa Blanca’s exciting features include being house of the largest theater screen in Texas and oversized push button reclining seats. And if that is not enough to convince you, Santikos Casa Blanca prides itself in being the first theatre in the world with 100 percent laser digital projectors. Casa Blanca was the last theatre designed by John Santikos, whose legacy of giving back continues with this theatre, as well as other Santikos theatres.
You’ve missed a real treat if you haven’t seen a movie in the VIP room at the Palladium IMAX. VIP theatres are located upstairs which is reserved for adults only. This setting often features live music and always features their impressive bar. The Oscar for Best Supporting Cocktail goes to whoever mixes up their sangria. It’s a deep rich red wine based fruity cup of wonderment. Choose the Palladium VIP when want to go to the movies alone. It’s a smaller setting, with a higher quality leatherish chair and tablette. I sat comfortably alone to enjoy Emily Blount as the Girl on the Train. Diners can choose from the Palladium’s eclectic, extensive menu that includes everything from quesadillas and gyros to paninis, burgers and pizza. Selections are all over the globe. The lobby has a gelato bar and a scaled down Starbucks. The Palladium is massive making the upstairs, adults only option the best choice for a relaxing evening or matinee.
Take time out during this awards season to see some of the nominated films and visit these theaters and let them know what you think of the experience. These are my nominees in the best food and film combination category.
For more about the establishments mentioned in this article go to:
Alamo Draft House Cinema: drafthouse.com/theater/stone-oak
Casa Blanca: santikos.com/san-antonio/casa-blanca