Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Studio Movie Grill review: Where chicken fingers, cheap thrills and bad ... - Dallas Morning News

One of four Studio Movie Grill locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (with another on the way in Richardson), the Royal location does what the chain is known for: serving casual dining fare and drinks and showing mainstream movies.

Repertoire: Standard Hollywood fare, with the occasional exception, like the documentary Bill W. (which also showed earlier this year at the Texas Theatre). Alternative programming varies from location to location. 2.5 kernels   

Concessions: A full casual dining menu, with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, nachos, a variety of chicken tenders and the like, plus a full bar, all served at your seat. I’ve never been wild about SMG’s food, though I’ve had much worse pizza. A recent nacho plate came with lukewarm cheese sauce, fajita chicken and what seemed like a head of lettuce shredded on top. In a pinch, the selection can make up for the unremarkable quality. 2.5 half kernels

Comfort: Both the table and counter seating options are comfy. I like the swivel chairs. The temperature is well maintained, and the facilities are kept clean. The lobby bar is inviting and has two large-screen TVs.  3 kernels

Technical quality: First-rate. The DLP projection and Dolby Digital sound makes for a rich and immersive moviegoing experience. Sound separation between theaters is an issue: I could hear The Dark Knight Rises pounding through the walls during a recent showing of The Campaign. Three and a half kernels 

Convenience: Having food and beverages brought to your seat is theoretically very convenient. (See the “Intangibles” category for the big caveat). This SMG is easy to get to: hop off North Central Expressway at Royal Lane, take a right and you’re in a spacious parking lot. If you’re in the mood you can hit the Conn’s and the Sun & Ski Sports that bracket the theater. 3 kernels         

Intangibles: OK, here’s my rant. There is an art to serving food during a movie. (See: Alamo Drafthouse). You get in fast, whisper, and make your presence barely detectable. SMG has not mastered this art. Plastic trays are clanked down on counters. The wait staff is constantly visible and scurrying about. Sometimes the chatty audience takes you out of the movie-watching zone, but just as often it’s the feeling that you’re in the midst of a dinner theater production, or a catered event where a movie happens to be playing in the background. If I actually want to pay attention to a film, this is the last place I go. 1 kernel

Overall: I see the function of Studio Movie Grill, and I understand the appeal. I just wish the food were a little better and the actual movies less peripheral to the experience.

Studio Movie Grill

11170 North Central Expressway (at Royal Lane)





$9.50 ($9.75 Fri-Sat after 6 p.m.), $8.25 students, $8 matinee ($5 before noon), $8 seniors, $7 children

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