Friday, October 31, 2014

iPic Theaters at Pike & Rose Media Night

Premium Plus Seating

Affordable Luxury

Did you hear that? It's the sound of AMC Theatres & Regal Cinemas shaking in their boots. Why so scared? Hint, hint: It has nothing to do with Halloween, save for the fact that October 31st marks the official opening of iPic Theaters at Pike & Rose. Quite simply, this is the fanciest, most lavish movie house I've ever been in. The folks at iPic hosted a media night last night, showcasing just some of the many amenities available to John Q. Public beginning today. How was it? More than 12 hours later, and I'm still gushing.

Lest you assume I'm making too much of a good thing, consider this... As a film critic, I usually attend at least three movies per week, across a broad range of theaters. Last night was the first time (in forever) that I was truly able to relax. Not once, did I have to stand up to allow someone in or out of my "row." Not once, did I have to line up at the concession stand (and worry about someone taking my seat, back inside the theater.) In fact, I ate like a king with complimentary popcorn and a three-course dinner (+ drinks!) Too good to be true? Perhaps, until you consider where I did all this. From the unabashed comfort of a luxurious leather recliner, as I lay draped under a plush blanket... with my head firmly softly atop a matching pillow. And no, I didn't have to die and go to Heaven: I merely had to go to the area's first (of hopefully many) iPic Theaters.

Main Entrance

Pike & Rose marks iPic's 11th nationwide location, with another dozen in the immediate pipeline. In addition to a full-service bar and a top-flight restaurant (City Perch opens November 17th) iPic sports eight separate auditoriums with a total capacity of 782 seats. That means less people in each theater, and less distractions, etc. It also means assigned seats, which you can arrange online or on-site, at guest services. Ticket prices are a shade higher than other theaters ($13 and $22 respectively for Premium and Premium Plus) but keep in mind, iPic doesn't charge extra for 3D films, prime time showings, etc. They also give you a FREE small popcorn with each Premium Plus ticket. Even better, members (even at the PURPLE level, which is free) pay less... $11 and $17 each.

Our media night was especially deluxe, as we were treated to the aforementioned three-course meal and unlimited drinks. Said food was served by ninjas (seriously, that's what they're called... and they're terrific!) during the film; so I wasn't able to take photos (except for the popcorn, which was darn good.) Starters are presented first, about 20 minutes into the movie. I went with Pork "Wings" - braised Kurobuta pork wings with chili sauce. They're absolutely delicious, and unlike other wings... are a cinch to eat, and completely safe. The meat literally falls off the bone, a la an order of tender ribs. That's not by accident either: All the food is presented in such a way, as to avoid unnecessary mess and noise.

As for service, prepare to be blown away. "Ninjas" dart in and out with impossible stealth and professionalism. My guy Juan was incredibly polite and knew EVERYTHING on the drink and food menus, backwards and forwards. When I asked for an Angus Burger (applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, tomato, curly leaf lettuce and truffle French fries) without cheese, Juan responded, "Of course. Whatever you want." He then proceeded to warn me that the fries also came with a dusting of cheese, and would I like to omit it as well. Goodness, I don't get that kind of service at most restaurants; yet alone a movie theater. Way to go Juan!

My burger arrived about 20 minutes after the starter (in between, I received another drink and had my plates cleared away instantly as well.) It's pretty dark in the theater; but the kitchen wisely cuts their burgers in half, making them extra-easy to handle. There was no mess whatsoever; and my burger was really, really good. Ditto for the fries, which came without cheese as promised. Hard to believe, but dessert (Chocolate S'mores Cake - Toasted marshmallows, graham cracker crumble & whipped cream) was still to come. Can you say pampered? Did I mention that after each course, I adjusted my recliner (electronically) and slipped back underneath my generously-sized blanket? Feel free to hate me: I can hardly blame you. I was jealous of myself, to be honest.

Premium Seating

Dessert was sensibly-sized and served nice & hot (not including the whipped cream.) After polishing off my small popcorn and a total of three Ginger-Apple Lemonades (only the best tasting non-alcoholic drinks in the world!) I was absolutely stuffed. What to do? How about reclining (again) and finishing one of the year's best movies (Nightcrawler?) In the near-future, iPics will outfit each Premium Plus seat with a handheld tablet to make ordering a breeze. There's already a convenient button that brings a server to your seat (you know, the one with tons of leg room.) Once City Perch opens, the menu will expand. As if it wasn't great already (click here to see the Premium Plus In-Theater Menu.)

The list goes on and on; yet I can't emphasize just how wonderful the full experience was. And this was only my first visit. Imagine what's in store, once I "get the hang of it." I've yet to inspect the restrooms, and I can't wait to sift through the entire menu (more reviews and photos to come.) Until then, I can only give iPic Theaters at Pike & Rose the highest recommendation possible. Going to the movies is about to change forever; and trust me, you want to be in on the ground floor.

Guest Services

Construction around the area (formerly Mid-Pike Plaza) is ongoing; but parking is convenient and FREE (there's that word again, for 3½ hours.) Final touches were still being applied inside iPic as well... escalators, random repairs; but I imagine this opening weekend will be nothing short of spectacular. Other positives worth mentioning (1) Great cell phone reception inside the auditorium (2) Wonderful background music, like Instant Crush by Daft Punk & Julian Casablancas and (3) Gorgeous carpeting - Adios sticky floors! Coming soon: iPic Media, 20 minutes before each show (recipes, etc. instead of a slew of annoying commercials.)

For a limited time (before November 5th) sign up for iPic's Membership Program, and you'll get your first year of Sapphire membership for FREE. That's normally $15, and includes a free ticket on your birthday. In addition (yes, there's more) you'll also get one FREE Premium Plus Ticket, that must be redeemed by December 6, 2014. Click here to sign up.

Beautiful corridors

Even the doors are cool-looking.

Ginger-Apple Lemonade

Complimentary Small Popcorn