iPic Theater @ Hudson Lights

Going to a movie is always fun, especially to a dine-in theater. I have been a fan of Nitehawk Cinema (you can read about them here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/nitehawk-cinema/  and  http://www.foodlovergirl.com/nitehawk-cinema-2/) in Brooklyn, with interesting movies, events, and good food. I recently heard about this brand new movie theater, who is determined to provide you the “ultimate” movie experience. Watching movie in luxury style with gourmet food? Sign me in! They are called the iPic Theaters, and they are currently located in 10 states across the country, including one in NJ, and one in NYC about to open in October.

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We visited the one in NJ, right across the George Washington Bridge. They are super fancy, from the moment we walked in, we were wowed with all the beautiful interior decoration. With chandelier and all things shiny and pretty, I must say, I have never been to a movie theater quite like this. There is a ticketing counter when you walk in, where you can either purchase tickets or pick up the tickets you have already purchased online. They also had few of those ticketing machines if you prefer no human interaction (or of the line is long).

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Their “gourmet” food is provided by City Perch Kitchen + Bar, who is located on the first floor of the building, attached to the movie theater. It seems like you can just come and have food and drink, separated from the movies, or you can also come in early before the movie and have food before the movie.

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I used their bathroom on the main floor, next to the grand escalators before going up to the theater auditoriums. And yes, it was fancy. It was dimmed, creating a nice relaxing atmosphere. It was not very large, with just two individual stalls with smoked glass doors. Super clean, hooks for your bags/coats, and elegant all around.

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On the way up on the escalator, we were greeted by huge, vibrant, beautiful artwork on the wall. They are actually books stacked from floor to ceiling, and painted over the book covers. What an awesome art exhibition, I loved it!

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After giving our ticket stab to the staff waiting for us at the top of the escalator, she directed us to our auditorium. Along the way, there was a super fancy concession stand, with fully equipped bar. They are taking this luxurious movie experience seriously… They are called iPic Express, where you can order food and drinks and carry them to your seat on your own. We were planning to order our food from our seats, so we didn’t stop here, but it is good to know the options they have available to the customers.

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And, the artwork didn’t end at the escalator, they have numerous modern artworks along the wall, which was really cool. The auditorium number was painted on the door, instead of having neon sign or anything like that. It just did not look anything like a movie theater, it looked like a fancy hotel or something.

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Once we walked in to the auditorium, we were wowed for the second (or third or fourth?) time. I mean, really? Is this a movie theater? Well, it certainly is a super luxurious one! They have two section in each auditoriums, called “Premium” and “Premium Plus.” Of course, each auditorium is designed a bit different, such as number of seats and the arrangement, but they all have the same two sections.

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The Premium seats are in olive green, the lowest level (closest to the screen) are in “chaise lounge” style, which I thought was pretty cute. The only thing is that they come in pairs – you can’t just buy one seat. If you are not going there with friend/loved one, or if you simply prefer to have a “seat” of your own, you can purchase the next tier up. These sections does NOT come with your own server, so if you want to have food or drinks, you must go to the concession stand and order. Once the food is ready, you need to leave the auditorium and go pick them up yourself.

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The Premium Plus sections are in orange, and you guessed it, these seats come with your own server. The first row in orange are individual seats, and most of them seems to be wheelchair accessible, which is really awesome and considerate! The rest of the orange seats are in pairs, and are in “pods”, creating separation from others, allowing semi-private movie watching experience. Seriously cool! These photos shows the chairs in reclined positions, by the way. The Premium Plus seats come with menu, blanket, pillow, and a free bag of popcorn. I know!!!

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The auditorium was designed in the way that you have a great view of the screen from any of the seats. You don’t need to worry about trying to get the full screen view through someone’s head in this theater. We purchased two seats in the Premium Plus section, which is extra $10/person. This charge is called “VIP fee” which is kind of funny, but it basically is a fee to have your own server.  There is a button on the table, and whenever we needed something, we pressed that button and the server came immediately. There are two additional button, on the wall of the “pod” which controls the reclining of the chair. The wall was soft enough that if you accidentally hit your head or something, it would not hurt (but please don’t try it).

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Since we arrived 15-20 minutes before the movie started, we had plenty time to explore, look around, and then order the food. We started with large bottle of water. The waitress brought out the large Voss bottle, and two glasses with lemon.

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Right when the movie started, a staff came over with bags of popcorn and asked as if we wanted some. We each grabbed the bag of fresh popcorn. It was nothing special, but it did complete the movie experience. And, they were free (with Premium Plus seats), so even better. They had just the right amount of butter, so my hands didn’t get all oily which was nice.

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For main food, we ordered sliders and two sides. Sorry for the not-so-great photos, but it is not easy to take photo in a dark theater… And since there was no one else in the theater on this day and time, we had the entire auditorium for ourselves!!! Which helped us to be able to use flash when we were taking photos of the food without disturbing anyone.

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They have few kinds of sliders, or they call them “Trios,”and we went with Angus Burger Trio ($16). It comes with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Romaine, Tomato, Sharp Cheddar, Secret Sauce, Garlic Toasted Brioche Buns. The waitress was very kind enough to tell us that if we wanted to, they can add another slider to make it into four (at additional cost) if we wanted to. Easier to share, right? But since we were also ordering two sides, and planning to have a dessert, we decided to stick with three. And my goodness I was glad with the decision! The sliders were nice size, with big, plump patty. It was very filling! They tasted great, with juicy meat, great seasoning, and bread was warm, airy, fluffy and flavorful. I hear they bake their own bread here. 

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The sides, Sweet Potato Fries ($8) and Tater Tots ($9) were great too. The sweet potato fries came with its special sauce, which had nice sweetness to it. It didn’t look like much, but the container was deeper than it looked, it actually was a generous amount of fries. They were soft in the inside, lightly fried so it was not greasy in any way. Great flavor and went well with the dipping sauce.

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I have a weak spot for tater tots, so I just had to have them… And they were great! Crispy on the outside, very potato-y in the inside. Right amount of seasoning, lightly fried, very comforting. It was simply addictive, we could not stop until it was all gone!

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For dessert, we wanted to order Chocolate S’mores Cake, but then the waitress came back and told us that they don’t have it anymore… She was very apologetic, and trying to help ease our sorrow, she recommended us to have Cheesecake Brulee ($9), which was not on the menu, but I have seen it on their website menu (there were few difference between the online menu and the menu at the seat). She already checked with the kitchen staff to make sure which dessert they do have on that day, so we decided to go with that. It was basically a cheesecake with hard caramel shell on top, just like Crème Brûlée. It had raspberry drizzled over it, and was very decadent. The cheesecake itself was rich, velvety, dense, and the crust was very tasty as well. It was a very good dessert, but heavy on sweet side, best to share with someone so that the sweetness won’t become overwhelming.

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Our waitress was really nice and friendly, and took care of us perfectly. The fancy, luxurious movie experience was awesome, although it comes with a steep price tag. But it is all based on how much we are willing to pay for such high quality, pampered, VIP experience at the movie theater. It was great to feel like a royalty and enjoy the movie in complete relaxation. I think it is a great way to have a special movie date with your loved one, so why not splurge a little? You and your love are totally worth it!

After the movie, we used their main bathroom by the auditoriums, and it was huge and glamorous! Their attention to fanciness and luxurious style never stopped, it was great! They didn’t have blinding lights after coming out of the dark theater, which is very much appreciated, and every inch was modern and stylish. They had about five stalls, each equipped with smoked glass doors. The sinks, over sized mirror, and red back splash really set the mood.

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I heard that the City Perch source their ingredients from local farms, and cooks most of everything in-house, so it tasted really fresh and delicious. I also hear that the menu will be changed seasonally so that they can offer fresh menu each season. Gotta love that, and it will be more reasons to visit this theater again and again, trying different dishes. Will definitely be going back again for another movie date, VIP style! Oh, one last thing, they do come with parking, which is still under construction, but is available to use for iPic Theater patrons already, free of charge. Once they are finished with construction, iPic Theater customers can get free parking for 4 hours, with validated parking.

iPic Theater @ Hudson Lights – 2023 Hudson St, Fort Lee, NJ 07024

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