Monday, August 10, 2015

AMC Theater Experience

I had the opportunity to attend an event at the AMC theaters in Lombard a few weeks ago. Theater food and movie-going experiences have come a long way! I had not been to the particular theater since they had a separated restaurant and nicer chairs with popcorn and drink refills which used to serve as their "Premium" movie-going experience. These days, with other full service movie theaters with bars and nicer seating popping up everywhere, AMC seems to have changed their way of thinking about how the movie-going experience should be. I was immediately impressed by the clean look of the lobby and the glass windows for the viewing of the AMC RedKitchen.

There was a bar available, and several of those neat Coca-cola machines with a ridiculous number of combinations of soda flavors. Looking at the menu, I saw no nachos, hot dogs or pizza on the menu! What a refreshing change! When I'd like to have a healthier alternative to the old standbys, I don't usually think I'll find it at the theater, so I was pleasantly surprised. I got to sample several menu items: the wedge lettuce cups, pretzel bites from the snacks section, the royal burger, gumbo mac and cheese, fish and chips and quesadillas from the entrees parts of the menu and the doughnuts on the sweets menu. All of the items I had were flavorful and the attention to detail on their menu they described was impressive- for example, they described making their sauces thicker so they would be less likely to drip, because eating your meal in the dark isn't the usual dining experience. I felt they made most of the items as finger-food friendly as possible, even by changing up a salad to be served in individual lettuce cups (it was still a bit messy, but delicious). The food was far better than your average theater food. I loved the lettuce cups, royal burger and doughnuts the best. I'd love to go back and try a milkshake, their quinoa bowl and several of the other menu items that sounded good- taco trio, crispy shrimp, bacon gouda mac n cheese (sounds delicious)!

Our particular theater was not a full service theater. They described that this meant that you should order your meal ahead, outside the theater at the counter and pay, and bring your food with you. Once you were seated, you could press a button to order more items, like dessert, or request something like extra napkins, silverware or extra sauce. If you wanted a refill of your drink, you had to go back to the lobby and do the refill yourself from the Coca-cola machines. If you ordered a new menu item, they'd swipe your credit card right there for you to be done with your transaction; this was to minimize the end of movie paying time so they could turn over theaters quicker. It was an interesting mix of self-serve and some waiter service at your seat- one you might need to get used to, but once you knew the system, seemed effective and easy. The other full-service theaters that they have- a new one opening up soon in Chicago on State Street- would be entirely ordering at your seat and having everything be brought to you at the press of a button.

The seating was great- full leather recliner seats... and they were motorized recliners. I enjoyed that the seats had wide arm rests to serve as your personal space and separate you from the seats next to you. The tables swiveled in and out. Napkins and condiments were within easy reach. I wished they had extra paper napkins available, though I could always ask for some, and I wished the extra sauces were labeled since I had several with the meal I ordered and it was hard to tell what they were in the dark. Overall, it was a great, comfy experience and I can't wait to go back to try other menu items and enjoy another movie at the AMC theater in Lombard!

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