Saturday, July 2, 2011

Where dinner and a movie are a snap

The AMC Theatres at Garden State Plaza.Image via Wikipedia
Spend your money on a good dinner, not the junk peddled by AMC.

A 16-screen theater and a spacious restaurant with an eclectic menu make it easy to enjoy dinner and a movie, especially when they are next to each other.

We had never eaten at Grand Lux Cafe, which has been open for more than three years at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, just steps from the AMC theater.

The crowds make just seeing a movie hard enough. Parking at the mall is frustrating, as are long waits on line to buy tickets.

On Friday night, we counted on the holiday weekend to thin out patrons, and we were right. We got a space after only a few minutes and were seated right away in the restaurant a little after 5 in the afternoon.

Grand Lux Cafe has more than 700 seats, if you include a terrace overlooking the parking lot, so it's probably the largest restaurant in North Jersey.

The elaborate decor includes lots of black granite; soaring, Egyptian-style columns; and in the lounge, a floor-to-ceiling back bar.

How do they retrieve bottles of French champagne on the top shelf, probably more than 20 feet high?

The menu is huge, ranging across many ethnic cuisines, and made-to-order desserts require a 30-minute notice.

The hostess offered me and my wife a table in the dining room or a booth in the lounge. We took the latter, and pressed for time, ordered two entrees and a glass of wine.

My wife's shrimp scampi ($19.95) were actually a half-dozen big prawns prepared with white wine, lemon and garlic, and linguine. She took home leftovers for our son.

I ordered wood-grilled mahi-mahi with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed fresh spinach ($22.95).

The portion was generous, with two small fillets, rosy inside, as requested, plus lots of creamy sweet potatoes and wilted spinach. 

The fish was moist, but the fillets and side dishes could have been hotter.

I drank a glass of cabernet sauvignon ($6.95) and finished with black coffee ($2.95). 

One turnoff was the granite wall of our booth. It was dirty and there were a couple of particles stuck to it. Were they food or worse? 

When I pointed this out, the waiter offered to clean it on the spot, but we wanted to make a 6 p.m. movie, so declined.

If you have leftovers, as we did, the movie ticket taker will send you back to the restaurant, which will store your food in a refrigerator until you come by for it on the way home.

The first Grand Lux Cafe opened in Las Vegas, from the founder of The Cheesecake Factory restaurants.

This was the third and best of the chain restaurants we have tried recently. Others were The Cheesecake Factory in Hackensack and Joe's Crab Shack in Clifton.

Grand Lux Cafe, One Garden State Plaza, 
Paramus; 201-909-0399. 
Web site

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  1. Grand Lux Shmand Lux (as opposed, I imagine, to Grand Lux Grand Shmux) ... so what movie did you see? And how much did you spend on popcorn?

  2. "Bridesmaids," and it was hilarious.

    We didn't spend a penny on anything. We were full from dinner. Saved $20.


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