Last week I was invited to a media event at iPic Theaters. Simply put, when iPic opens later this week, it will immediately be the best theater in Houston, Texas. iPic Theater prides itself on being a luxury theater that is putting the class and fun back in movie going. They achieve this with amazing attention to detail and a beautifully decorated theater. The location also lends itself to the “luxury brand” they are selling. Located in the new River Oaks District right off of Westheimer and down the street from the Galleria, they could not have a better location. Here are a few more reasons why I loveeeee this place.
- Seats – There are two types of seats at iPic, Premium Plus and Premium. I would have referred to the Premium seats as the “cheap seats” but iPic staff calls those the first class seats while the Premium Plus are like flying private. Like Goldilocks, I sat in both and I will have to agree, both are a far cry from your typical movie theaters and the comparable luxury theaters. As great as the Premium seats are, the Premium Plus seats are amazzzzzing and I cannot imagine sitting anywhere else when I go back. The Premium Plus seats are literally a patent pending pod that you will only find at the Houston location. The inventor of these seats thought of everything. There is a little nook for your purse. A cup holder that pops out with the push of a button. Seats that recline AND come with a pillow and blanket!! The Premium Plus seatholders are served at their seats while the Premium seats stand in the typical concession food line to order. The best part of the pod is that you are cordoned off from other moviegoers, making you feel like you are in a large theater with just you and your pod partner.
- Membership – they love the word LUXURY at this place and that usually comes with a membership to make the fancy people feel important. Just like other theaters, the basic membership is FREE. iPic has a tiered membership though and the next level, the Sapphire level, will cost you about $15/year, not bad considering it gives you discounted rate on their movie tickets, which are pricey. The next levels are based on some unpublished standards, but I suppose the more you frequent the more likely you can move on up and receive more perks. Also, until November 5, 2015, iPic is offering an upgrade to the Sapphire level for FREE (gotta capitalize that so you don’t miss the important stuff) and will throw in a FREE Premium ticket so you can enjoy your first trip on iPic.
- The Drinks– At this event, they made it hard for us not to like the drinks because every step we took they shoved a cocktail in our hand, but I am not complaining! In keeping with the idea of luxury, iPic Founder Hamid Hashemi brought on an expert mixologist, Adam Seger to craft the best cocktails. These drinks reminded me of the kind you get at some of the best bars in Houston, not the syrupy concoctions you get at other luxury theaters. During his speech, Seger said they recognize the time it takes to create handcrafted drinks, so they create craft cocktails which are bottled in served out of the bottle to cut down on time. We liked everything we tried, so I would say any pick would be a safe bet.
- The Food– I initially questioned if this event would be appropriate for me as a food blogger to attend considering food at theaters usually is not blog worthy. I did a little research about the chef, Sherry Yard and discovered that she is a James Beard Award winner, plus she has worked with Wolfgang Puck!! Once in our fabulous pod, our ninja servers quietly served us a plate of Chef Yard’s favorites. It is rare that I like everything on a platter, but I can honestly say I enjoyed everything! Chef Yard said every dish is made from scratch and you can really tell. The homemade biscuit with cheddar was divine. The chicken strip seemed simple, but it was beautifully breaded, juicy and seasoned really well. The chicken salad is plated like a lettuce wrap for easy eating in the dark. Such a smart concept that works because it was great seasoning, great salad dressing and my favorite, shredded parmesan cheese! Finally, there was a beautiful little pork slider. Chef Yard said things like bread are locally sourced, which is a plus for me. I am a sucker for a great soft bun, so much so that the rest of the dish does not matter much after that, but the barbecue pork was actually good. Then I had a wonderful chocolate chip cookie with a peanut butter dessert. The effort by Chef Yard and iPic theaters is clear, the food, albeit pricey is truly restaurant level. Also, the food is LEAPS and bounds above competitor movie theaters, so you really can do a good dinner and a movie here.
- The Popcorn – As I am typing this, I really do not know how I was able to eat all of this food, but somehow I did HA! The cost of admission includes popcorn! After finishing off that platter, my sister and each finished off a bag of our own popcorn. My mother, who has to have popcorn at the movie theater, complains that cinema suites do not pop their popcorn fresh in house, so it is never that great. Their focus is the food, so they do not give much attention to the popcorn. Not the case here. Now they did not go into great detail about the popcorn, but the bag I received was warm, buttery and salty. All the things I want when I order popcorn in the theater. So not only is it included, but it is good!
- Service– The staff was wonderful and accommodating throughout the entire visit. For food service in the theater, the staff dressed in black are trained to move like ninjas through the theater and whisper. Now, I do not think they have the whispering thing down just yet, but it did not bother me much. Also, this is a little thing, but I also appreciated that iPic has hired a diverse staff, you do not always see that in luxury establishments.
I cannot wait to go to iPic theater once they open this week! The staff warned us that they sell out fast, so make sure to get your tickets early!