A New Seat in Town: Moviehouse & Eatery
With the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar shuttered for renovations for the past six months (and seemingly interminably if you’ve driven down South Lamar lately and seen that disheartening dirt pit), I’ve been venturing a bit further afield to get my movie fix. For a South Austinite, the next best thing to the Alamo South Lamar is, of course, the Alamo Slaughter Lane, which is where I’ve caught quite a few summer movies. I’ve also been spending more time at the Violet Crown and at the Alamo’s own crown jewel, the Ritz. Then one night this past week, I left South and Central Austin behind and took the scenic drive out 2222 all the way to 620, where the Moviehouse & Eatery has opened up shop in the Four Points area of Northwest Austin.
Like Round Rock’s Flix Brewhouse, Moviehouse & Eatery seems to be leaning heavily on the Alamo’s shoulders, but at the same time, it’s also reaching for something more—the chance to be all things to all movie-going people. Its 11 theaters split the difference between preferred cinematic experiences. Some are just your standard general admission movie theaters. Another is equipped with the D-Box motion seats (like the ones at the Galaxy Highland). If IMAX is your thing, Moviehouse has “The Big House,” a three-story-tall screen with stadium seating. And for those of us who have gotten used to eating and drinking alongside our cinematic entertainment, they’ve got six dine-in theaters that offer reserved seating and, seriously, the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever watched a movie in (that’s them in the header image). I thought Violet Crown’s front row had that distinction, but Moviehouse smokes those with plush, roomy recliners with cup holders in a stadium seating layout. I didn’t really dig Flix’s airplane-style dining, so I prefer Moviehouse’s—a slim tray that swivels on the arm of the chair to go from straight out in front and out of your way or as close as you want it to be to your mouth. I cannot overstate the comfort of this setup. It is a must-try.
Because of all these formats, the Eatery part of Moviehouse encompasses a traditional concession stand, a sizable lobby bar and the dine-in service. The beer, wine and cocktail menus didn’t seem quite on par with the Alamo’s, but there was a decent number of offerings. The food menu has some delicious-sounding options, and I definitely want to try one of their pizzas. On my only visit so far, I got the Smoked Avocado and Goat Cheese salad, which I didn’t like as much as the old goat cheese salad the Alamo used to offer (before their most recent menu distillation/ruination). I wanted to try dessert, but the ordering system turned me off a bit. You press a small button near your chair, the server comes over to you, and you tell the server your order. That’s fine before the show starts, but once Benedict Cumberbatch is up on screen emoting without moving the top half of his face, the talking feels a little…wrong.
In another departure from the Alamo, the Moviehouse—so far—doesn’t seem to be devoting any of its screens to indie fare. Over the past few weeks, the Alamo has played summer non-blockbusters like Mud and Much Ado About Nothing, but the Moviehouse’s movies are all ones you’ll find at the top of the weekly box office listings. A little diversity in the Moviehouse lineup would be great. And of course, the Alamo set and still holds the gold standard in creative programming, which extends to its themed pre-shows. (The pre-show at Moviehouse is your standard Regal 20.) But if you want a really comfy place to kick back and watch a big Hollywood movie on a nice screen with good sound, it’s worth the drive out to the Moviehouse.