Both are quite different. AMC has two types of auditoriums in its new dine-in theaters: The Fork & Screen, which has traditional-style seating with simple trays, and the more luxurious Cinema Suites. We didn't try Fork & Screen but we've now been to the Cinema Suites twice and absolutely love it. The Nitehawk in Williamsburg isn't as luxurious as Cinema Suites, but the food is outstanding and on a totally different level.
We think the idea of eating in a movie theater (something other than popcorn, of course) is an exciting thing to happen to the moviegoing experience. We'll follow up with our review of the Nitehawk soon, but here now is our take on AMC's Cinema Suites:
Starting out, you can order your ticket online, and what's really nice is that you can reserve your seats in advance. I wish more theaters had this option, dine-in or not. If you order early, you can get the best seats. That said, the auditorium, while big, has only about 80 seats, and I don't think there's a bad seat in the room. You can also pick out your seats at the automated kiosk. There is a premium for the Cinema Suites experience - our tickets were $15. Keep in mind that this is in New Jersey where the ticket costs aren't at Manhattan levels. So $15 seems very fair. Right off the bat, one thing that's nice about Cinema Suites is that it's 21-and-over. No kids or rowdy teenagers, and they serve alcohol.
Then, as you are enjoying the previews or the movie, your food comes. The food is fine. It's the same type of stuff you get at Chili's, TGI Friday's, etc. The menu is pretty extensive - they have hamburgers, pasta, flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, quesadillas, and so on. Even country fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes (which was pretty good). There's also a variety of appetizers available - we recommend sharing because they're pretty big - and a big drink menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Even iced coffee drinks. And the dessert selection is good, too. In short, there's something there for everyone, and enough different things to try if you visit regularly. And of course, they have popcorn, candy, and everything else you can normally get at the movies.
What's nice is that it's priced reasonably. The food is priced about the same as Chili's or TGI Friday's. We were expecting pricing to be higher - after all, it's a movie theater. But no, pricing was fine. By our Manhattan standards, we'd even call it cheap.
The seating! After you eat, may we suggest reclining your chair back and relaxing with a foot rest and your head back. If the movie is not to your liking, you can easily fall asleep during the movie. The seats are so unbelievably comfortable that you don't want the movie to end. Even during J. Edgar, which was pretty long, we wished it had gone on for at least another half hour. The feeling of just sitting - or laying - there after you eat is wonderful. You're full, you're (hopefully) enjoying a movie, and you're completely relaxed. This might sound stupid, but there are few things that feel better than laying in a reclined Cinema Suites chair watching a movie on a big screen with a full stomach.
After your meal, someone from the waitstaff comes by with a hot towelette so you can clean up. All of this is done with minimal intrusion and disruption. Yeah, you notice the waiters walk by delivering food, and you can hear them whisper when taking an order. But it's all minimal. There's a bit of light coming from behind each seat so that you don't eat in complete darkness, but it didn't bother us.
All photos taken from the AMC Dine-In Theater Site.