The South Loop’s swank new dinner-and-a-movie megaplex—with its first-class theater just off a lounge-restaurant by Jerry Kleiner—prompts some unsettling new cinema-going questions: Which liquor pairs best with watching blue-skinned, ponytailed humanoids? And just what the hell is bacon popcorn?
I get a VIP ticket for Avatar and select my seat (order online at showplaceicon.com). Being “very important” at the ShowPlace comes with a price: $17.50 plus a WTF?-inducing $2.50 fee for 3-D movies.
Ordering drinks and food in the theater’s Lobby Lounge, I have to remind myself this is not the bar of some posh boutique hotel. Kleiner doesn’t tone down his questionable eccentric-meets-upscale design sensibility: Oversize furniture and light fixtures, and framed photos of Hollywood stars abound. Large windows give a big-screen–worthy view of the western edge of the city’s skyline.
A member of the waitstaff calls me “sir” and ushers me and my vittles to the VIP box. Cocktail in hand, I cop a squat in a spacious, high-backed red-leather seat (see cover). It’s La-Z-Boy comfy, though it doesn’t recline. Not many others follow me in with munchies, so as the film starts and I begin chowing down off an insufficiently small side table, I feel like a very important pig.
The menu offers all the expected bar-food options: cheese and meat plates, pizzas, panini, which must be ordered in the Lobby Lounge and carried into the theater. (If you’re in a rush, hit the concession stand downstairs.) The ’za, topped with soprassata and haphazardly placed sprigs of arugula, has a nice crisp crust and coal-fired taste. But the red-velvet cake is only passable—and some of it ends up on my lap as I snack in the dark wearing 3-D glasses. As for that puzzling bacon popcorn—simply popped kernels sprinkled with bacon-flavored salt and topped with weirdly chewy bits of bacon—I’d take the standard, fake-butter-smeared stuff any day. 150 W Roosevelt Rd (312-564-2104).
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