La Premiere, Hoyts Moore Park
It's been a great time of eating lately, and it is topped off by - much like the gorgeous chocolate sundae pictured above, but more about that later - a cordial invite by the nice people at Hoyts to try their La Premiere menu!
La Premiere was described to me as their 'business class' offering - a more relaxed feel than 'first class', but more sophisticated and swanky than just a movie. Good food at the movies provide a multitude of possibilities: Let's say you're on a first date and you're nervous. Well, no awkward pre-movie dinner conversation! Just order the food at the movies, and then you have something to talk about afterwards to break the ice! Or let's say you want to meet up with a couple of girlfriends after work to catch some food and a movie. Sometimes dinner can run long, causing you to be late for the movie. Well, this solves that problem too.
The problem used to be, though, that the food at the cinema was crap. I'm sorry, I know that there's a place for cheesy nachos and popcorn, but it does not make for a great food experience if you want a 'nice night out'. When I think 'nice night out' I tend to think about decent food that's relatively light, that I can pick at with my friends. Nothing too heavy, but a nice variety.
And the heaviness was something that Hoyts wanted to address. Before this change, the menu was dominated by deep-fried food that wasn't particularly inspiring. So they partnered with Lotus & Ming and 2 newly-hired chefs to come up with something better for movie-goers to enjoy.
I like to identify myself as a rabid fan of movies - at one point I was going once a week, scary I know - so I'm very lucky to have been invited by the lovely people at Hoyts to try out this new menu!
Let's get down and yummy shall we? ;)
First up was the Peking Duck Pancakes ($17 for 4).
As someone who's grown up with these pancakes, I always get really wary of the ones offered in Australia. Sometimes it's overtly sweet, sometimes there's a bad balance of fresh veg (cucumber and spring onion) to duck, and sometimes there's so much sauce that it just gets soggy and hard to eat.
But these were genuinely a joy. You could definitely tell that the focus was on food that you could handle easily in the cinema. The duck was shredded, meaning that you didn't need to be chewing through skin - come on, we've all had those moments where we're trying to bite through duck and we've just pulled whole pieces out, leaving the rest of the roll empty. These spring rolls are definitely the type that you can pick up and eat in the dark safely, without worrying about having filling all over your clothes. The plum dipping sauce was also a nice addition, as it meant that the rolls weren't overly soggy with sauce and you had the option if you wanted more.
In following with the roll theme, the Farm Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls ($12 for 3) were up next. Filled with a variety of ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, these spring rolls were tasty and comforting. It was served with a soy infusion sauce - I have no idea what the term means, but to me it tasted more like a dressing with a touch of tanginess than the salty hit of just soy sauce. Simple and comforting, these rolls are easy to share with friends on a girls' night out.
The Yum Cha Combo ($17 for 6) caught me a little bit off guard. As a general rule, I don't eat dumplings unless I am going to yum cha or at a reputable chinese restaurant. There was a mixture of shrimp dumplings and chicken ones, they were decent, but not quite my thing. Especially after the first two dishes which were pleasantly surprising, these fell just a bit short for me. The bite size pieces were still great to eat in the dark, but after growing up with home-made dumplings, my personal bias just got the best of me in this one.
If you're a fan of the crunchy fried option, then you'll like this one. The Salt and Pepper Seafood Medley ($22) consisted of crumbed prawn, calamari and whiting served on a bed of fries. The seafood was good and I love how the crumbing was not saturated and dripping with oil, but I think the unsung heroes of this dish were the chips. Paired with the garlic and chive aioli, those chips were amazingly moorish, leading us to keep picking at them throughout. The amazing part? Even after almost an hour of being on the table, the chips kept their crisp!!! There was a satisfying crunch even when many other chips would have been stale, and even when they were at room temperature, they still hit the spot texturally. LOVE THOSE CHIPS.
When I think of chips, I somehow think of burgers, so how appropriate was it that the next thing that we got to try was the La Premiere Burger Trio ($17)?
Three mini burgers were served with a palette cleansing cranberry and raspberry juice shot. The Wagyu Beef Slider (top photo, left) consisted of a patty made with grass fed beef, cheddar cheese and tomato relish. The Grilled Chicken slider (top photo, right) consisted of marinated grilled chicken, cheese and creamy creamy avocado. And finally, the Gourmet Turkey Slider (bottom photo, top) had turkey with melted cheese and a lovely dollop of cranberry sauce.
These mini burgers were the size of a Mini-Disc (anyone remember those) and were trés cute! The beef was my absolute favourite, with heaps of gorgeous umami flavours bursting forth with every bite. It was the heaviest of the three, but the small size prevented it from being too much and weighing you down. The chicken was my next favourite, with the creamy avocado adding a touch of luxury to an otherwise light and healthy-tasting burger. I felt that the turkey was festive, and a great idea, but the turkey piece itself just was a touch dry for me. Speaking with Chris - the man who is leading the charge in the full revamp of the menu - he mentioned that the turkey burger was the trickiest because of the nature of turkey meat being quite lean. Full disclosure, though, I'm really picky about such things. Sam, whom I went with, didn't feel that it was dry at all, and loved it.
Something else that Sam and I both love is cheese - both the dairy and Disney sort - and the Cheese Board ($24) did not disappoint.
The cheeses on the board consisted of a creamy Adelaide hill Brie and Goats Cheese Curd (top left and right, respectively), Blue Cow Country Cheddar (middle, left) and and mild Hysen Blue Cheese (bottom, left), with quince paste and lavosh. A cheese board can be pretty simple, and sometimes leaves people to think that for the price they pay they can just buy the cheeses themselves and create the board. Chris had thought about this and told me that the conscious decision was made to use cheeses from suppliers that are not as commonly found so that there was something different, a point of difference from the rest. Something for people to come back for.
Well, this is something that I would definitely get again and again. I love how the Goat's Cheese Curd wasn't quite as strong on the aftertaste like many goat's cheeses I've tried. The brie melted luxuriously in my mouth, and the blue cheese was not as sharp as some of the others, making it a great beginner's blue for people who are hesitant in ordering and trying blues. I'm not a great cheddar eater, but Sam was, and this reiterated the sharing concept of the menu. There is something for everyone.
But with almost every eating experience, there is the pièce de résistance. Let me present to you the La Premiere Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae ($24).
As modeled by Sam, this ginormous sundae is close to the size of her face.A 1.8L glass bowl is filled with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, fudgy chocolate brownie cubes, whipped cream, wafers and nuts. Holding this bowl made me want to replace (in my dream wedding) a wedding bouquet with a gargantuan ice cream sundae. Whether it's a breakup, celebration or just because, this sundae is a definite sharing favourite! There is even a strawberry version which has an entire punnet of strawberries emptied into its creamy depths. LOVE IT.
In all, I felt that the amount of effort and thought that went into the revamp - considering how people would eat the food in the dark and how they would feel after eating the food - deserves lots of praise. Considering that there are limited facilities in the kitchen, the team has done a fantastic job in presenting more than decent food with great variety. Sure, I'm not crazy about absolutely everything, but the whole point of the variety is that there is something for everyone to try.
At the moment the La Premiere menu is available in NSW at Moore Park and Chatswood, but they are expanding it in more locations soon.
Note: Tammi and guest of Insatiable Munchies were invited as guests of Hoyts Australia.