In a city where the Alamo Drafthouse first grew its quickly spreading roots and iPic made waves when its extravagant Domain location opened, and where Violet Crown keeps it independently classy in the Warehouse District, you could say we’re pampered as far as in-theater dining options go.
And now there’s a new kid on the block; last fall, Galaxy Moviehouse & Eatery opened its doors in the once-underserved — and now rapidly developing — neighborhood known as Four Points, located just north of RM 2222 on RM 620 North.
"In-theater dining is one of the biggest trends in the restaurant world right now," says Moviehouse & Eatery’s executive chef Brandon Hanna. "And Austinites are a little bit spoiled by the fact that they’re in the epicenter of a lot of the development. … I think it’s good for them, and I think it’s good for us to be here with an educated customer that has a cross-opinion and a different checkpoint."
While each of our local options is unique in its own right, Galaxy Moviehouse & Eatery prides itself in offering multiple ways to experience a film within its 45,000-square-foot location.
Just to the right of the lobby is an elegant bar area exuding Hill Country chic: exposed stone walls, wood and tile floors, cowhide stools, leather furniture in earth tones, all highlighted by aqua accent walls. Daylight warms the space through lofty picture windows, and fresh-cut flowers brighten up the long white bar, which leads toward the five theaters designed for "director’s choice" dine-in service ($9.50 first show/$12 all others).
But head straight through the lobby and you’ll find yourself at a kaleidoscopic counter bearing all the familiar concessions found in traditional movie theaters, right down to liquid nacho cheese and boxes of Sour Patch Kids. This entrance leads into the five general admission theaters ($7.50 matinee/$10 prime-time shows).
"A lot of parents come, send their kids down the hall to go watch a movie on (the general admission) side, and then plop right in here and do dinner on this side," general manager Mark McLaughlin says.
The Moviehouse also boasts the DFX House, whose towering 3.5-story screen (one of the biggest in the state) makes for a larger-than-life, surround-sound experience. And for an added charge, guests can experience one of 22 D-Box 4-D seats, which interact in real time with the film you’re viewing by sliding, flying, jolting and rumbling.
While all the seats are pretty luxurious, the best in the house are the leather recliners found in the dine-in theaters. Button controls allow guests to make adjustments to their liking— but hope you don’t sit next to someone indecisive, as the shifting leather-on-leather does emit a rather distracting sound.
Each seat is outfitted with its own swiveling tray tabletop (which I found adequately spacious once the food arrived), with rolled silverware and a menu at the ready. A call button system notifies servers when a guest is in need of service via the in-house computer system.
"With something as simple as dropping your fork on the ground or needing a refill on water, you’re not waiting for a server to come through and notice that you need help," McLaughlin says.
Save for select bread, the Moviehouse & Eatery runs a scratch kitchen, right down to the sausage atop the pizza, the pizza dough rolled fresh every morning, the dressings and sauces accompanying dishes, and the spices, which are all roasted and ground in-house.
When designing the menu, Hanna not only chose items he thought would handle well in the dark, but also those he could produce quickly without compromising quality or freshness. And in this setting, he felt a comfort food-focused menu seemed only right.
"The whole experience is kind of a gluttony experience," Hanna admits. "Not many times are you going to sit in a recliner and drink a beer in public. Those are the kinds of things that just don’t happen."
Chicken lollipops ($10.50) — Frenched drumsticks that are breaded, double fried and tossed in one of five savory sauces — have quickly become a Moviehouse signature dish, along with the Cavatappi and Cheese ($10), twists of pasta suspended in a creamy, cheese-infused béchamel with peas and bacon.
"Escoffier may be rolling over in his grave because I used one of his base sauces to make mac and cheese, but it’s a good, hearty dish and I’m really proud of it," Hanna says.
The Big Jake ($12), topped with pepper jack, bacon, horseradish aioli, red pepper relish, and bourbon barbecue sauce, is one of the better burgers I’ve had in a theater. The Po’Boy ($11.50) is filled with a decent amount of fresh, fried shrimp and topped with a tangy daikon slaw, grape tomatoes and Thai remoulade. And the accompanying sweet potato fries are good enough to earn a spot on the appetizer menu (which, as it stands, is pretty heavy in the cheese department).
In addition to wine by the glass and bottle ($6-$45) and a short-but-sweet cocktail menu , they offer an impressive beer selection — by draft, bottle, mini bucket (four bottles), and bomber ($4-$25). Order one of the large format craft beers (such as Ommegang Rare Vos or Jester King Black Metal) and it will arrive in a champagne ice bucket with chilled snifters.
As proof that the lap of luxury need not be reserved for sundown, the Moviehouse & Eatery offers a brunch menu with selections ranging from a veg-heavy frittata ($8.50) to a movie-coma-inducing biscuits and gravy ($7.50) — as well as a short list of all the necessary liquid accoutrements.
They’ve also been hosting everything from cereal buffet birthday celebrations to church pajama parties and most recently welcomed 700 students from the Leander Independent School District for a movie day camp. International companies have hosted lunchtime webinars for their employees, and a medical class even watched a live surgery on the big screen.
By keeping prices competitive, the Moviehouse looks forward to a growing community of regular customers who feel right at home (and those recliners certainly help, too).
"This is someplace you could come tonight with a friend or a husband and have a good time, come back later in the week with some colleagues from work and catch another movie," McLaughlin says, "and you don’t feel like your pocketbook has taken a beating from being here."