Dinner and a Show at the AMC Essex Green

Is it possible to spend over $60 to see a movie? Would you even want to? Do margaritas and movie lines mix? The answers to these and other burning questions ensue.

Jersey Bites was invited to attend the opening of a new style of dine-in movie theatre, the AMC Essex Green in West Orange. And that afforded me the opportunity to resolve all these questions. (Bottom line: this is a cool thing). While waiting to begin our tour, we waited in the lounge area for MacGuffins, which used to be the concession stand that is now a full-service bar. In the theater. Really. Not a shabby place to meet your friends before going in to see a show.

We started out the tour with a visit to the two types of enhanced theater seating. The first is dubbed Fork and Screen which is used in six of the nine theaters in the complex, and has stadium style seating with very comfortable seats, grouped four inline, with a narrow table in front for ease in dining. The ticket price for this room is $20, which includes a $10 food credit for the show.

The other three theatres are called Cinema Suites and are equipped with electric full reclining red leather seats and individual oversized table trays that pivot in place for dining. There are less than 48 seats in each of these rooms by my count to accommodate the larger seats and side tables. The ticket price for this room is $25, which includes a $15 food credit. After seeing this room, where we would be seeing the movie, I only needed a quick tour of the kitchen. Let the fun begin.

So the novelty of watching the trailers and ordering drinks and food is definitely a cool thing. One margarita later, I was just getting warmed up to this new experience. I knew I should have started with the Fresh Fruit Salad for $9.99 or the Veggie Triple Feature for $7.99, as these were labeled as healthy offerings. But the signature offering labeled Crab Rangoon was begging to be sampled. Yeah, it was arterial sclerosis on a platter with a healthy helping of sodium. On reflection, I’d say try something else. Like maybe save those fat calories for the best onion rings I’ve ever had, the Sweet Onion Loops for $6.99. It’s a little pricey but worth it.

Once again, I knew that I should have ordered the Lime Chicken Griller for $8.99, another healthy offering. Would you be surprised if I told you I ordered the Handmade Lobster Ravioli for $17.99? I just didn’t have enough room for any of the desserts. My waistline thanked me. I did want to try one of their Espresso Blenders, always a weakness of mine. Still no room. But I could see inhaling a number of those on a hot summer afternoon. Blenders are a good thing.

I’d have to say that the prices for these dishes did not match the quality of what you would expect in a restaurant, but I was still on a high from being able to order all this from the depths of my recliner, which seemed to be swallowing me whole as the night went on.

Here’s how the night proceeded once seated. While we were getting ready for the movie to start, someone came to take our orders. The drinks arrived within 10 minutes after ordering. The food started to arrive within 10-15 minutes after that. Approximately a half hour before the end of the movie, the check arrives followed shortly by the receipt. At that point you can go back to the bar if so desired.

While you did slightly notice talking during the movie, as theater-goer and waitperson converse, I did not find it annoying. I DID find the subdued light by your side table, that stayed lit the entire time, annoying to the point that I put my jacket over it. There. Problem solved. Back to the recliner. Oh, and can you bring me another margarita, please?

With this venture, AMC is definitely shifting the paradigm on what constitutes a night out at the movies. This one-stop shopping approach should definitely appeal to many. Adding to life’s persistent questions will be ones related to what to order. You may run out of movies to see before you get to try all the menu items temptingand testing your resolve (and your waistline). One could do worse than be a swigger of blenders (apologies to Robert Frost).

AMC Essex Green 9, 495 Prospect Ave., West Orange, NJ. 07052.

Phil Sikora: In his own words “I have a T-shirt from a club for owners of Russian motorcycles with a motto that translates to: “Eat to ride; ride to eat.”  I’ve taken that to heart. And so the stories will unfold.”   Phil is a motorcycle enthusiast and System Engineer for AT&T.  He works in Middletown and lives in Paramus and will be reporting on his culinary adventures in his “Reviews from the Road” series for Jersey Bites.