Dinner and a Movie on Front Street

I received my movie tickets and concession stand items free of charge through a complimentary Spotlight Theatres gift certificate. My dinner and cocktails were not comped and all opinions throughout this post are my own.

My good friend Kat works for the Hartford Advocate and is always hooking me up with opportunities to review CT businesses. I told her I had plans last Wednesday at Hartford’s new movie theater on Front Street – Spotlight Theatres – for dinner at Front Street Bistro (located inside the theater) followed by a movie (The Conjuring). Often my blog posts about restaurants and other establishments come from plans made to specifically go, have an experience, and do a write-up. I can’t recall a time I happened to have a blogging opportunity fall into my lap for plans I’d ALREADY made! I quickly accepted Kat’s offer and headed to downtown Hartford after work to meet my friend Jeff (a different one than the usual Jeff!)

Whenever I'm dining with just one other person I try to sit at the bar. It's where all the action is!

Whenever I’m dining with just one other person I try to sit at the bar. It’s where all the action is!

Movie theater food is usually something I avoid, and most movie theater restaurants don’t boast menus that make me giddy, so I tend to do the dinner portion of the dinner-and-a-movie combo at a restaurant outside of the theater. Spotlight’s on-premise restaurant, Front Street Bistro, stood out from the get-go because I could NOT get over the awesome cocktail list! I arrived thirsty for one and I knew immediately which I wanted – the Trainspotter, a peat scotch cocktail. Certainly not a disappointment.

The smoky flavor was so unique. Every sip was an experience! Two thumbs up.

Jeff ordered the French Connection – Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, white cran, cucumber liquor, and St. Germain. However the bar was out of white cran, so Jeff just asked the bartender to leave it out – ah, a man with the same taste as me! The bartender was kind enough to replace the missing liquid from the white cran with…more gin! Ah, another my-kind-of-man! I tried a sip of the resulting cocktail and give it another set of two thumbs up. Nice and strong! I love St. Germaine. It truly is the bartender’s bacon.


Plenty of tables!

For my second drink, which I ended up sharing with Jeff, I just HAD to try the Fig Club – fig vodka with Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of sour. I asked the bartender to leave that last part out, because I’m really picky about sour mix. However, I later found out that Front Street Bistro makes their own sour! I would have liked to try it in that case and wish I’d known, but no matter. My resulting cocktail was a dream and would seriously be so easy to recreate at home! Fig +vodka + wine = yum.

I often face decision anxiety when it comes to dinner menus but I knew exactly what I wanted after one glance at Front Street’s menu

Pretzel-Coated Salmon, Sauteed Mushrooms & Spinach, Asian-Sesame Coleslaw

I have to say the menu is designed in a fashion that makes choosing healthy sides REALLY easy! The coleslaw is listed with the option of Creamy Dill or Asian Sesame (a vinaigrette) dressing, and the Seasonal Vegetables are made-to-order in your choice of Garlic Butter or Herb Oil. I rarely order coleslaw out because it is often too creamy/heavy, but this version was super light and reminded me of my mom’s! The mushrooms and spinach tasted fantastic too – I loved the Roasted Garlic Olive Oil they were prepared in. I was most excited for the Pretzel-Coated Salmon, but it was unfortunately a little dry. I didn’t taste much of the pretzels or the honey mustard on top.

We also asked for bread, but it took awhile to be brought out. Restaurants that don’t serve bread often get one thumbs down counted against them in my book (unless it’s a place like Krust, where the menu is predominantly bread-based so bread to start would be overkill). But I also dislike it when restaurants offer bread, but only when asked. If you’re going to serve bread, I think the waiter should either just bring it out or ask the table if they want it. I had to ask the bartender for bread a couple of times, after being told that it was served free of charge only to those who requested it. Call me a Complaining Cathy (or Caitlin since that is my real name, ha) but it bothers me! (The bread was okay by the way, just some rolls that appeared store-bought, but they did the trick!)

The classiest of the classy.

The classiest of the classy.

I cannot lie, the availability of booze at the concession stand was reason I was most excited to see a movie at Spotlight Theatres! Yes the seats were comfy, the theater was clean, and the bathrooms well-kept. But I felt giddy as I settled in with my cheap champagne in a plastic cup. The wine is not the classiest (Barefoot anyone?) but the available beers range from blah to not bad – for example, I saw someone purchase some Long Trail! Also, I won’t order champagne next time. Cheap champagne = a movie of burping.

Instead of dessert, Jeff and I decided to quench our salt tooths and shared a bag of non-buttered medium popcorn! Ridiculous movie prices ($6) as usual, but it hit the spot. Sometimes you gotta go with movie theater popcorn.

I paced myself better than this with the popcorn, but not with the champagne…

Oh, and the movie? I had heard SO much hype about how scary it was, how it was rated R only for being scary, etc etc. And while it did make me jump and had me tense and was a BLAST to watch in the theaters, I had already forgotten about the plot and the demons and all that by the time I stepped back outside. Definitely worth a view in the theater though, and I’m glad no lingering fear has kept me up at night! Also, seeing the guy from Office Space play a useless horror-movie-dad was weird.

Overall I’m excited to go back to Spotlight Theatres and the Front Street Bistro! The drinks were super impressive and the food, while only pretty good, was certainly the best I’ve ever experienced at a movie theater. Being able to do dinner and a movie without leaving the theater in between the two activities would certainly come in handy during the frigid New England winters as well! Groupon has a deal going on right now that involves a ridiculously large popcorn, so be sure to check it out if you live in the area.

Have you ever been to a movie theater where the concession stand sells booze?

What’s the best-quality movie theater food and/or drink you’ve ever had?

Did you see The Conjuring and if so, what’d you think?

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