July 14, 2013 Achrafieh Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Empire Premiere: How Hard is it to Keep a Promise in Lebanon?


Welcoming: 3/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 6.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 23/30

Architecture / Interior: 9/10

Food presentation: 8/10

Service: 4/10

Value for money: Soon

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In March of this year, a one of a kind movie theatre opened its doors in Sodeco Square. A Premiere Cinema promising high-end service dedicated to movie aficionados. I didn't only attend one opening night, but two. This was how happy I was with the professionalism this venue has to offer. Dedicated service, premium food, beautiful architecture and welcoming staff, you would never usually experience in a cinema. I was so happy knowing that now, when I want to watch a movie, I could indulge in an experience that will satisfy all my senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.


At 20:30hours, we reached Sodeco Square and checked in at the cinema entrance, buying four tickets for the movie: "The Company You Keep". We arrived an hour and thirty minutes before the movie started, as we planned on having some Japanese food, prepared by the famous and favourite, "Le Sushi Bar".


The first impression was not great and I was hoping it would have stopped here:

  • Buying the tickets was normal without the personalised service I was promised to have
  • We went down the stairs and were stopped by a waiter: "Please give me your tickets... Would you like to go in now?" Shocking to say the least. It was 8:30pm,  60 minutes before the movie. I was expecting the hostess to accompany us down, or the waiter, with a smile, welcome us with a: "Welcome to Empire Premiere. Would you like to have dinner before the movies?" 
  • Knowing about the concept, I told him that we will sit on the couches and have dinner. Here another waiter accompanied us by the bar
  • 15 long minutes passed until a third waiter decided to come take the order: I was starting to boil inside out
  • While waiting, you cannot but notice the heavy and dull ambiance: "SILENCE". Heavy silence. In a premium venue, some background classical music would have made us all happier and would have encouraged us to eat more
  • Order taken, I asked for San Pellegrino which is not available
  • Waiters would only pass by our table every 10 minutes. Just to state that we were alone and there was no one else to attend to. They were busy gossiping
  • Three cans of Pepsi delivered without a cup. Asking for some ice, even though the cup comes first, this request was forgotten. I had to ask for the cups of ice again although the soft drinks were finished
  • While waiting for the food, we were offered a popcorn in a porcelain bucket. Nice gesture you think at first then, subconsciously, to add a funny joke, you ask: "Can we take it with us inside?" The NO answer is rude and unpleasant and we heard it twice tonight. If you don't want people to ask this question and if you don't want guests to take it with them inside considering popcorn is a tradition at the movies, simply offer an alternative
  • After dinner, eating sushi and raw fish, everyone of us asked for wet wipes: Sorry, none available
  • It was so annoying to see all the waiters standing together around the popcorn machine as if they were preparing for a cards game
  • Finishing and entering the theater, a fourth waiter was assigned to take the order: "I would love to have a salt popcorn and another caramel". Sorry! We don't have popcorn choices... Grrrrr...


I was not happy and surely not satisfied: Many promises not respected:
  • We were promised a personalized service. A butler that will take care of us from start to end. That didn't happen
  • Up to ten different choices of popcorn? I didn't see that. They don't even have caramel
  • Cinema without a soft drink draft machine? Come on! I don't want a glass, I'm not in a cafe. A cinema experience is all about sipping the cold drink from an ice topped carton cup
  • Pepsi! At a cinema? Aren't all Empire cinemas serving draft coke?
The NO! expect to hear:
  • No wet wipes
  • No flavored popcorn
  • No taking of the popcorn bucket with you
  • No draft drinks
  • No. The free internet was not working
  • No phone signal inside. You will be simply disconnected from the world for two hours
We Ordered:
  • Sesame Seed 16,250LL (Red and white cabbage, carrots and cucumbers with a sesame seed dressing)
  • Flamed Salmon 25,500LL(Flamed salmon on salad leaves, dressed with wasabi vinaigrette)
  • Steamed Edamame 7,500LL (Spicy No raw fish Vegetarian)
  • Crispy Salmon 11,000LL (Salmon, avocado, special crispy wrap)
  • Crispy Crazy Shrimp 11,500LL (Shrimps, togarashi, flying fish roe, special crispy wrap)
  • Crispy Crazy 12,500LL (Crabsticks, cucumbers, crispy wrap, crazy mix topping)
  • Crispy California 12,500LL (Crabsticks, avocado, cucumbers, crispy wrap)
  • Crispy Smoked Salmon 16,750LL (Smoked salmon, avocado, special crispy wrap)
  • Spicy Salmon Hoso Maki 10,250LL (Salmon, togarashi)
  • Crazy Spicy Salmon Temaki 14,000LL (Salmon, togarashi, crazy mix)
  • Ura Eron’s Secret 12,250LL (Salmon, spring onions, crispy, creamy spicy sauce, flying fish roe, coriander wrap)
  • SensationaM 27,250LL 5pieces (Surf clams, grapes, spring onions, coriander, wasabi, special crispy wrap, leek sprouts topping, scallion oil dressing)
  • Flying Salmon 13,000LL (Crabsticks, cucumbers, salmon wrap, crazy mix topping)
  • Geisha 16,750LL (Yellowtail, salmon, crabsticks, avocado, salmon wrap, creamy spicy topping)
  • Green Lotus 15,500LL (Yellowtail, salmon, crabsticks, avocado wrap)
Food was good but I was not impressed. Le Sushi Bar is better:
  • Salmon had a fake taste with a gluey aftertaste
  • Fresh mushroom with the salmon salad? Why is that?
  • The same knife cutting onions was used to cut other vegetables
  • Those plastic green grass separators are so repulsive! Unacceptable to be used by Le Sushi Bar
  • It is expensive for a pre-cinema dinner. 50$/person, no alcohol and no dessert
Everything had a exclamation mark tonight. Sad!
What I enjoyed:
  • The Temaki sushi cones were simply superb
  • Popcorn is fresh, hot and tasty
  • The seats are so relaxing and make you want to close your eyes and let go
Simple: We were promised perfection... deliver it or change the concept...





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