By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
By Lauren Saria
By JK Grence
By Eric Schaefer
By Robrt L. Pela
By Eric Schaefer
Now this is the way to do dinner and a movie.
No standing in line. No $7.50 ticket. No $3.75 soft drink. No $5 sack of stale popcorn. No $20 for steak after the show.
And no struggling to carve out four or more hours to fit it all in.
14202 N. Scottsdale Road, #114
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Category: Movie Theaters
Region: North Scottsdale
Baked Brie a l'orange: $7
Tuscan bruschetta: $6
Garlic herb popcorn: $5
Hamburger and fries: $8
Portabella and havarti sandwich $8
Prime rib: $18
Shrimp scampi: $21
Chocolate hazelnut bombe: $5.50
Flourless chocolate torte: $5.50
Not when we can do a meal and a flick all at once, and for a fraction of the cost of enjoying them separately.
Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club has opened in Scottsdale, bringing with it an appealing new restaurant and movie venue combining full-service dining along with full-length feature films.
And besides the substantial cost and time savings inherent in the concept, Farrelli's is downright fun.
Picture this: Guests lounging in cushy, velvet- and leather-look armchairs, the furniture free-standing and on swivel casters to afford premium screen views from any angle. As the film floods the 17- by 28-foot MegaPlex screen, servers glide silently up to private tables, presenting our choice of an iced bottle of Domain Chandon champagne, or perhaps a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. Minutes later, our waitress returns with appetizers: a Sonoran jumbo shrimp cocktail dressed with gazpacho, and a spinach salad tossed with fresh tomato, feta and toasted pine nuts in a flavorful Cabernet vinaigrette.
The movie's in full swing soon and so is dinner, with entrees of steak au poivre, a 10-ounce New York center-cut sirloin in a cracked pepper- brandy-cream sauce, and pork tenderloin stuffed with mushroom duxelle a la espagnole (a rich, meaty brown sauce).
Finally, as the film's hero gets the girl, guests get dessert: crème brûlée, and a trio of ice creams with crème anglaise and a sopapilla. The $6 movie ticket charge is simply added to the bill.
Now that's a classy way to take in some Tinseltown.
The cinema supper club experience isn't entirely new. The idea has been gaining popularity across the country, including a chain in California offering cafe and bar service, and the nationally franchised Cinema Grill, serving snacks like chicken wings, pizza and sandwiches.
Farrelli's is the first to hit Arizona, and it's got upgrades the others don't.
The cuisine served here aspires to gourmet, and rather than a corporate effort, meals are prepared by private owners and longtime Valley caterers Tom and Wendy Farrell.
The two-month-old enterprise seems destined for success: In most cases, Farrelli's flick-and-food fantasy is entirely enjoyable.
It's taken six years for the Farrells to get their club up and running, and the attention to detail shows. Set in yet another brand-new strip mall at the retail center that's become Kierland, the 10,000-square-foot property includes two theaters and a plush, live piano lounge, serving a full bar and menu for up to 60 guests. Visitors enter off an elegant marble lounge fronted by a fireplace, and check in with a well-dressed hostess (reservations are recommended, although walk-ins are welcome).
The Farrells suggest we arrive at least half-an-hour prior to show time, giving us time for a quick drink and an opportunity to study the menu before the lights go down.
When the theater is ready, the hostess leads us to our table. The tables are set as foursomes over three tiers; more casual seating can be found at two rows of bar seats in between tiers, and at a single row of tall bar tables in back.
The setting is suave: rich, burgundy drapes and walls, burgundy-and-gold fabrics, ornate art deco columns, ceilings and sconces, and cloth napkins. Preview films warm up the audience -- a European circus show one evening, the best of Johnny Carson on another, and, often, classic cartoons.
Films start on time, pin-and-cord lights dimming to a warm glow that just allows us to see our food. To get the attention of our server, we flick a switch on a small coaster, and it pulses infrared to flag her down.
We've been concerned that the noise of other diners will affect our film, because the plates are heavy china on bare tables. Nothing interrupts the Dolby Surround Sound, however, with several feet between tables allowing for muted conversation. And the diners eat silently.
Plus, there are no pop movies here to attract the masses.
Farrelli's screens a few current releases, but primarily independent films, art films, film festival award winners, foreign films and classics such as the Maltese Falcon or Casablanca. It's a great opportunity to catch jewels that slipped in and out of theaters before we could get to them. Our crew is charmed with showings of The Dish and The Tailor of Panamaon two separate nights.
The food is more uneven, split between truly good, satisfying and mediocre. Figuring out Farrelli's strong points is an interesting thing, too. The best dishes are also the best-priced, focusing on appetizers, sandwiches and desserts.
Emphasizing contemporary American favorites, menu items vary with the season, and include several nightly specials. There's popcorn, of course, but done Scottsdale-style, freshly popped and moistened with melted 24-seasoning garlic-herb butter and Parmesan. Plain old salt and butter would be much better.
But forget munching on Boston Baked Beans candy from the snack bar.
Sweet starters here include a dynamite baked Brie a l'orange, the softball-size puff pastry filled with warm cheese that spreads easily on the loaves of crusty French bread served alongside. Generous ribbons of orange marmalade and chunks of caramelized pecans make it magical. It's a pretty presentation, too, the plate dotted with star-shaped puddles of coulis and thin slices of kiwi and strawberry.