There's this scene in Treme when character Janette DeSautel, the fictionalized Susan Spicer trying to keep herself and her restaurant from falling apart after the storm, runs out of dessert and for an improvised solution, produces a Hubig's pie from her purse to serve to a guest. "Just drizzle something on it," she instructs her sous chef.
I'd venture to guess that she didn't charge $4 for the dressed-up checkout line purchase. That's why a look at the menu for Gusto, chef Adolfo Garcia's cafe/fancy concession stand at the newly reopened Theatres at Canal Place, caused some incredulity: a Hubig's pie, listed under desserts, was priced at $4. This prompted my friend to ask our waiter how an item found for 99 cents at most grocery stores receives such a price hike. "I think they drizzle some sauce on top," he said, "with some whipped cream " "Hand-whipped cream," another waiter interjected.
Visiting Canal Place after its highly anticipated makeover was a bit jarring at times. The look alone was quite a change, with the once modest entrance transformed with a sleek art deco motif. It made the neighboring Mrs. Field's look especially tragic, the low-end food cookie purveyor sitting sadly in the shadows of the cinema's silvery light.
Although there's some seating in Gusto, located right outside the cinema, moviegoers can opt to be served during screenings. It seemed like a good idea at first, sort of like a drive-in for the bourgeoisie, but it faltered in execution. Maybe having servers at one's beck and call and you literally do, as there is a large red button on the seats' arm rest/pull-out tables that summons a server to your seat (which was a little weird) would enhance a film that can only be endured enjoyed while incredibly drunk, like I imagine to be the case for Sex and the City 2. But during Spanish-language film A Secret in Their Eyes, it was a bit distracting to see servers milling about and to hear whispered orders or friends discussing how they're going to split the check (they deliver your bill half-way through the film, presumably so you can't scream). They also don't turn the house lights completely down during the film understandably, since carrying a full tray of wine in the dark is just an accident waiting to happen but it took away from the film experience.
The menu itself is eclectic mix of small plates, high-end spins on movie concession standards like popcorn that can be topped with parmesan cheese and black pepper, white truffle oil, or pimenton and garlic and entree-sized panini and flatbread pizzas. It's a little expensive, but anyone who's been to a AMC theater lately knows that the diabetes-inducing crap that fills their concession stands is also exorbitantly priced. However not to sound like a cranky, like some people nothing justifies the $4 Hubig's pie. There's also a selection of beverages that provides a much needed alternative to the gigantic fountain soda: there's espresso and coffee drinks, Italian sodas and house-brewed iced tea, as well as beer, wine and cocktails (like the flirtini, likely added for the Carrie Bradshaw crowd).
For a night where you can afford to blow $50 at the movies and don't mind being a little distracted during the screening, Canal Place provides an enjoyable outing. But the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, where you can buy an imported beer and some Japanese candy and enjoy arthouse flicks while sitting on a variety of mismatched furniture, is just as good, I say.
Have you been to the new Theatres at Canal Place? Leave your thoughts on it in the comments.