After sipping cocktails in the lounge of Moviehouse and Eatery, a dine-in theater in McKinney, you check your watch to find your showtime is approaching. You make your way to your theater and into a cool brown leather seat and find a food menu so diverse, it gives Alamo Drafthouse's mediocre eats a run for their money.
This dine-in theater is fully equipped with all the movie-outing-classics — popcorn, candy and sodas. What really makes this theater gourmet is their scratch-made assortment of menu items.
With food ranging from American to Asian, Moviehouse and Eatery tries to cater to everyone. This also includes options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-sensitive guests. However, the menu was not always so inclusive.
James Atkinson, food and beverage director, says he has changed 90 percent of the menu since joining Moviehouse and Eatery about a year and a half ago.
“When I first came on board, the menu was very limited [in] healthy options. It wasn’t vegetarian or vegan friendly,” Atkinson says. “It was very ‘fryer friendly.’”
While Atkinson is still trying to expand on the healthy options for the menu, there are still plenty of “fryer friendly” dishes to choose from. The Pretzel Stix ($10) are a great example. This comes with four Bavarian-style pretzel sticks, queso blanco and horseradish aioli upon request. It is the perfect amount to split between more than one person (or not).
Another good option for the fryers in the world is the Farmhouse Burger ($13.50). Do not worry, you can substitute the fresh-ground beef for a turkey or veggie patty. The burger is then topped with smoked white cheddar, house-smoked bacon, a sunny side up egg, avocado and pesto aioli. This entreé can be served with a choice of fries, sweet potato fries or tater tots.
Originally from New York, Atkinson spent a lot of time working in freestanding and fine dining restaurants. Eventually, he landed in the high-end business of banquets working for the Ritz-Carlton for serveral years.
During this time, he says, he worked with many talented chefs and was introduced to so many different flavors. He became obsessed, so he just kept working on fine tuning his skills as a chef.
He jumped into working with Moviehouse and Eatery for a change of pace. Through his food, he wants to elevate his dine-in theater above others in a market with increasing competition.
He certainly did just that with the Asian Bowl ($12). Served on top of cilantro lime rice and chopped romaine lettuce, this dish consists of grilled chicken, baby bella mushrooms, red pepper, daikon slaw and cucumber. It is then topped off with a sunny side up egg and drizzled with soy chilli dressing.
Atkinson prides himself on his use of fresh ingredients. As a chef, he says he would not serve food with preservatives and additives to his mother, so he will not serve it to his guests.
“It is really important to me to be able to know where every ingredient is coming from,” he says. “It’s just a cleaner plate [and] a cleaner flavor profile when you’re using fresh ingredients.”
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The fresh food and ingredients would not be that impressive if you were not able to top the meal off with cookies fresh from the oven. The Cookie Trio ($8) comes out on a plate that is hot to the touch. With the Trio, there is the option of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, macadamia nut or any combination of the three. For $2 more, another cookie or a pint of milk can be added to the trio.
DFW was first introduced to these theaters in 2014, two years after the chain opened its doors in Austin. Now three are open in the area with one each in Keller, Flower Mound and McKinney. Plans call for more in DFW in the future.
Moviehouse and Eatery, locations in McKinney, Keller and Flower Mound