Dinner at the movies
In time for the NYC Food Film Festival, we test-drive gastro-cinemas that are breaking free of the popcorn box.
Fri Oct 7 2011
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
reRun Gastropub Theater
reRun Gastropub Theater
147 Front St between Jay and Pearl Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-766-9110)
Even amid a shiny crop of competitors, this DIY trailblazer, which opened in 2010, still feels original—both food and booze are served from a bar inside the theater, and guests sit in repurposed minivan seats surrounded by a gritty mural of the city. Meanwhile, former TONY critic and indie-film-label exec Aaron Hillis curates a unique lineup of movies ($7.50 each), many of which are NYC first-runs culled from Sundance and SXSW.
How it works: Tucked away at the back of reBar, a popular gastropub, the venue is more bar-with-a-theater than the other way around. It feels wholly distinct from the restaurant up front, with a film-nerd crowd—including directors, producers and actors—that gathers before screenings for happy hour. The bar closes when the lights go down, but food orders placed beforehand will be delivered to your seat, and you can load up on discounted buckets of beer or carafes of wine and cocktails to tide you over through the show.
Food: Creative junk-food riffs anchor the short menu, including mashed-potato--stuffed pretzels and baked focaccia filled with pulled pork. Fender dogs ($6--$8)—steak, duck confit or Italian sausages so big they require a Philly-style hoagie roll—are juicy enough, but the casing is short on snap and they're far too messy to eat in the dark (the lack of tables doesn't help matters). Meanwhile, vanilla ice cream and massive house-made chocolate-chip cookies somehow add up to a disappointing ice-cream sandwich ($5), the cookies too dry and the proportions all off. Stick with brown paper bags full of decadent popcorn ($5--$7), tossed with duck fat and a sprinkling of herb salt.
Drinks: Beer drinkers can choose from Guinness or Chelsea Brewing Company Checker Cab on draft, bottles of Belgian (Rodenbach, Chimay) and American (Victory Prima Pils, Bear Republic Racer No. 5) craft beers or cheapo cans. There are also a few organic wines and basic mixed drinks, plus get-sloshed combo deals like a 25.4-ounce Foster's oil can and a shot of Ancient Age bourbon for $11.
Bottom line: We love reRun's laid-back vibe, friendly staff and lax boozing restrictions. If only the food were a little better.