Not many chefs have experienced the kind of test run that Carbon Arc Bar & Board chef Gilbert Langlois just finished over the weekend. Carbon Arc is the new restaurant that’s opening on Thursday inside the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square, part of the movie house’s $5 million renovation. All of the restaurant’s items are available inside the theater itself while watching a movie. Just load up the tray, which fastens and clicks into the theater seats.
Langlois, who owned Chalkboard across the street—which closed in 2013—faces a barrage of challenges unfamiliar to employees at traditional restaurants. Imagine a crowd of 60 showing up at once. They want their food and they want it in time to make their matinee show. Under all this duress, did owners of the Davis place restrictions on Langlois when developing the menu?
"No, I don’t think so," Langlois said. "When I presented the concept of the menu, I think they were open to any idea that I wanted."
That means Langlois didn’t have to be conscious of strong aromas that might bother movie-goers dining together in a confined space. The menu features a battery of flatbreads, tacos and burgers that are easy to enjoy while in the theater. Items that take less time to prepare are highlighted to give would-be movie watchers a head’s up.
But it isn’t generic. Take the french fries. They come with a mayo dip based on tom yum soup, the aromatic Thai dish. There are a few dishes from Chalkboard including chicken and biscuits. Langlois said he’ll change the menu frequently, and he also has plans for special dinner events with menus tailored to specific movies. The space has flexibility as they’ll stream live events and even be a space for private events. 12 TVs sit in the 3,800-square-foot space, as well as a fully-stocked bar with 28 beers on tap.
Langlois lives in the neighborhood, and that was one of the draws, as was the staff they’ve assembled. He’s not taking himself too seriously, but wants to ensure the food is consistent for moviegoers and those who eat in the dining room.
"It has to be intricately and professionally done, but ultimately it should be whimsical and entertaining and memorable," he said. "It should be something that you enjoy."
Carbon Arc, named for the lamp used in vintage movie projectors, opens on Thursday when the new three-screen Davis shows Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Check out the menu below.