Friday, November 9, 2012
Studio Movie Grill spruces up concept, unveils sleek monolith on Spring Valley
We'll call it date-night multitasking.
DALLAS Though you can now find Studio Movie Grill outposts throughout the country, as of September, Dallas boasts the locally-founded chain’s largest and most state-of-the-art flagship location.
SMG opened its first location in 1999 in Addison, and though the original was shuttered in 2010 due to its small size, the brand has expanded to 10 locations, seven of which are located in Texas. The new flagship on Spring Valley is SMG's largest, boasting 2,500 seats, and its sleek new design by Dallas firm Droese-Raney Architecture sets the stage for impending architectural and design updates at each of the existing locations.
With competitor Alamo Drafthouse heading into DFW in the spring, SMG says it’s not only what’s on the outside that counts; they’ve examined the real heart of the movie/dining experience. SMG invited us out to show off the sexy new design and let us test drive a night at the theater. Here’s how it stacks up.
How annoying is it to have waiters stalk you during a movie? Not very annoying, it turns out. Initially, it seems that SMG’s wait system would be intrusive – you press a button and a dim red light alerts a waiter. During our experience, our main waiter was incredibly knowledgeable: She knew the menu inside and out, was quick with recommendations, and helped us work out the best deals. Would we like a top-shelf shot added to Margarita Monday special? She did the math for us, and hell yes we would! Flavor shots are free. Every staff member we encountered was friendly, professional, and – most importantly with this concept – efficient. They knew when to drop in and when to hold back, and because of SMG’s stadium style seating with extensive space between rows, any movement was minimally distracting and whispers with other patrons were totally under the radar.
Diversity and quality of food
With more than 100 menu items, there’s a lot to choose from, and from our experience, the food is legit. Want traditional movie theater fare like Orville Redenbacher pop corn or M&Ms? Done. More of a healthy eater? No problem. We stuck with top-shelf frozen margaritas and the Kale and Avocado salad with added grilled chicken for a (mostly) healthy meal that was fresh and flavorful – in fact, the flavors were unusual, creative, and unexpected: A combination of avocado, lemon tarragon dressing, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes is ambitious (and dangerous) but in this case, the strong voices harmonized rather than clashed. Executive Chef Thad Kelley has added premium brands to the menu like China Mist tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Napa’s Silver Oak Wines, and you can get everything from spicy Tabasco wings and cheese fries to hummus and crab cakes. You won't have to make a big compromise when dining with a group.
Cost for value
Let's be real: Kale plus microbrews plus movie ticket sounds a little pricey – has anyone seen the price of a flippin' movie ticket these days?! But, tickets are comparable to any local first-run theater, and if you're willing to take in an off-peak show, they offer pretty solid discounts. Same with food. You're likely going out for dinner anyway, and SMG offers fresh and well-made entrees for less than $20. We were able to get out for less than $25 per person – that's including margaritas with top-shelf boosters and grilled chicken add-ons to our substantial salads. But, if you're not looking to booze-it-up, a savvy consumer could easily walk out with a full belly for about $10.
One of the best things we noticed is that SMG offers a number of deals, from Margarita Mondays to Endless Pizza Wednesdays and Draft Beer Thursdays. And, if you're not hankering for a first-run film, you can also check out the $1 Movie Classics Series, where every third Thursday, SMG rolls out retro classics like Forest Gump on November 29 and Home Alone on December 20.
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