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Houston Restaurant Weeks: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema -- Vintage Park

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What they're up to for Houston Restaurant Weeks: This is the first year Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has participated in Houston Restaurant Weeks, and it's the first movie theater to join the HRW lineup. The Vintage Park and Mason locations both serve the same HRW dinner menu for $35 featuring three courses; the meal also includes a movie ticket for that evening plus a return movie ticket when given the check at the end of the meal. So, that's two movies plus a three-course meal for $35 -- not too shabby. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will donate $5 to the Houston Food Bank for every meal sold during HRW.

Service/Atmosphere: If you want to be able to see your food before your movie, then get to your seats quickly and select your courses right away. But, if eating in the dark doesn't matter to you, then hold off until the previews start to place your order. It's a nice change of pace to eat an HRW dinner at a movie theater; you don't have to worry about the kitchen being slammed.

Items that won't be on the regular menu: All of the items on the HRW dinner menu are available on the regular menu. You have four options for the second course, and three options for both the first and third courses.

Don't miss this dish: You have to have popcorn when you go to the movies. If you're going with a friend, make sure someone orders the bottomless popcorn for their first course; it's a giant bowl that could easily feed five people, but it's okay if it's all gone before the movie starts because there are endless refills. The extra sprinkle of herb Parmesan enhances each salty, buttery piece. If you want something lighter, then start with the goat cheese and roasted red pepper dip served with carrots, cucumber slices, celery, bell pepper and warm pita bread.

To be honest, there isn't a bad decision on the dessert. The three warm peanut butter cookies topped with soft banana slices probably edged out the 512 Pecan Porter adult milkshake based on sweetness, but each was a nice treat as the movie came to a close. If only I had a big glass of milk in which to dunk those cookies.

Don't bother: Unfortunately the Greek salad and the Brussels sprouts, smoked bacon and goat cheese pizza were disappointing entrees. I wanted something lighter after indulging in way too much popcorn and sipping on the boozy shake, but I should have known that a salad in a movie theater is like ordering sushi at a gas station -- you just shouldn't do it. The pizza had potential, but my dining companion couldn't stand the strong bitter notes from both the softened Brussels sprouts and crumbled goat cheese. The crust was great, but this would have been much more enjoyable if it was a traditional pepperoni pizza.

Final verdict: Use HRW as an excuse to go to the movies on a weekday. It's fun to try new places during this month-long event, so might as well try the only movie theater on the restaurant list. Get a bowl of popcorn, choose the fish and chips or blue cheese burger for your entree (as a means to avoid the pizza and salad), and cap it all off with a boozy shake or warm cookies.

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