With our movie underway and our stomachs beginning to grumble, Claire and I scoured the menu. I saw some healthy options, but did I really want to forgo the green chile mac and cheese croquettes for the roasted garlic hummus dip? Considering that I’m a diehard mac and cheese fan, the answer was obvious. Luckily, I didn’t have to do much arm-twisting to convince Claire that this was the appetizer we were born to try, and we weren’t disappointed. The green chiles added a nice twist, and the crispy, fried breading was a perfect complement to the creamy noodles inside.
Next came the main course. We both ordered a Royale with Cheese burger, which came with a side of seasoned fries, and paired the entrees with alcoholic milkshakes: Irish coffee for me and chocolate-covered cherry for Claire. The star of the burger was the smoked bacon. The thick-cut strips were chewy and full of flavor. Honorable mention goes to the burger bun, which held its own under the substantial patty, aforementioned bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato and aioli. The fries were nothing to write home about, but both of the milkshakes were tasty. Claire’s—with Cherry Heering and Ghirardelli Chocolate—was far richer and boozier than mine, but that was fine by me. After that meal, I realized I was kind of glad swimsuit season was quickly coming to an end.
Q&A with co-owner and managing partner, John Martin
417 Magazine: Tim and Karrie League founded Alamo Drafthouse in 1997. Where did the idea come from?
John Martin: The concept began as a one-screen theater in downtown Austin, Texas. The founders had been on their honeymoon up in the Pacific Northwest. They were in a bed and breakfast that showed movies in the auditorium, but [it] also had pizzas and draft beer. And that was, I think, the seed, if you will.
417: Both the drink and dinner menus are full of local vendors, including White River Brewing Co., Horrmann Meats and Askinosie Chocolate. Why is this a priority?
J.M.: We do try to do that in all the locations. By wrapping our arms around the community and giving the love back to our guests, it just shows that we are part of the neighborhood. We try to carry as much as we can.
417: Tell us about the process of creating the menu.
J.M.: Well, there are some tried-and-true Alamo favorites, like the Royale with Cheese. However, about 20 percent, we wanted to hyper-focus on what we believe Springfield would want. And we know that it’s the birthplace of cashew chicken, right? So let’s try it. We went through I don’t know how many iterations, perfecting the recipe for the cashew chicken, and we knew that we’d be under the microscope when we offered that.
417: What’s your favorite drink on the menu?
J.M.: The Colonel Rickey’s. I’d say that’s my favorite of the cocktails, and my favorite beer—well, I better stay away from that. But I will say as a group of beer, I love our IPA selection.
417: And your favorite dish?
J.M.: I would say my favorite is the [Fried] Pork Loin Sandwich. It’s big. It’s on Texas toast. It’s oversized. It’s just a great taste, and the sauce that comes with it is, I think, awesome.