The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2010

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Page 66 of 112

WHAT’S NEW Gold Class Cinema W story and photos by Richard Carleton Hacker ould you like a Martini with that matinee? It’s free on Mondays. On Tuesdays, selected wines by the glass are just $3, and you can have them served by a clandestine black-clad “ninja waiter” trained to never speak above a whisper and not get between you and the screen while you watch a first-run feature film from a plush, electronically controlled leather recliner. Those are just a few of the innovative concepts by Gold Class Cinemas, an Australian-based international chain of home theater–like movie houses, each with its own kitchen, executive chef, bartender, cocktail lounge and bar stocked with premium spirits, plus an extensive wine list, assembled by master sommelier Damon Ornowski, that includes 31 wines by the glass. Patrick Brennan, Local Marketing Coordinator for Gold Class Cinemas, delivers their Caesar romaine spears salad and Chinois chicken salad rolls during intermission in one of the theaters. Note the green illuminated silent call button for use during the movie. There are also ten exclusive Gold Class Cinema cocktails created by Bridget Albert, Master Mixologist for Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois. Her expertise in uncomplicated bar recipes with originality made her a natural for Gold Class Cinemas, creating cocktails such as the Perfect Palmer (Absolut vodka, Pama pomegranate liqueur, sweet tea and pink lemonade) and the Vanilla Manhattan (Maker’s Mark, Navan and sweet vermouth). Each of America’s six Gold Class Cinemas (with more coming, plus others already in Australia, China and Europe), is a unique compilation of a restaurant/cocktail lounge encased in a luxury movie theater environment. “Robert Kirby, Chairman of Village Road Show, the SPIRITS FLOW AT THE PICTURE SHOW A meal fit for a movie: Surf and Turf (grilled petit beef filets and sweet onions on a brioche bun, with lobster mac and cheese), house-made beignets with raspberry and chocolate dipping sauces and a Volito—the Gold Class version of the Mojito, made with Malibu Passion fruit rum, pineapple, freshly squeezed lime, muddled fresh mint and soda. parent company of Gold Class Cinema, has been dealing with movie executives for 30 years,” says Fab Nicolao, Director of Food and Beverage for the Village Roadshow Group. “In the early ‘90s while visiting the U.S., he asked some Hollywood executives, ‘Where do you go to movies?’ They said they didn’t really ‘go’ to the movies— they watched them in executive screening rooms and home theaters. That gave Kirby the idea for Gold Class Cinemas.” Partnering with Levy Restaurants in Chicago, they created a cutlery-free menu that, to quote Nicolao, “you can eat in the dark without any spillage. For example, the Caesar salad is served in a bowl with the dressing underneath and thickened, so the romaine lettuce sticks up along the sides. You pick them up and dip them into the dressing so you’re really eating a Caesar salad with your hands. The hamburgers are sliders using Niman Ranch meat because it holds the juices without dripping.” “Cocktail service is just as exacting,” says Nicolao. “Bridget spent a week in each location training bartenders on our signature cocktails, because our service is very dif- ferent from that in a regular restaurant or cocktail lounge. Customers don’t understand the concept of being interrupted while watching a movie. So the key was to dress our servers in black, but they must also to be nimble enough to kneel, so that, because of the way the recliners are designed, when you’re watching a movie, no guest ever has a server cross in front of them. There are two recliners with a built-in table between them on each side of each aisle, so the server never gets in front of the screen.” Food and drinks can be enjoyed in the lounge before the movie or delivered at prear- ranged times during the show. “The thought process behind the wine list, signature cocktails and the spirits we use is that it has to be every bit of restaurant and cocktail lounge quality,” says Nicolao. C. B. DeMille should have had it so good. 66 / the tasting panel / september 2010

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