Recently, my press card for the Alamo Drafthouse Denton (3220 Town Center Tr) arrived in the mail, allowing me to see movies for free whenever I happen to be up that way. A line of confident text that appears on the card assures me it is “the most badass card in your wallet.” That’s bold speculation, considering no one from that company has ever inspected my wallet, which contains, among other badassery, a card offering up my pristine organs to a needy soul should I meet an untimely demise.
But seriously, this machismo from the Austin-based movie theater chain pisses me off. If you’ve been to any of its locations, you know there aren’t many better places to watch a film. These theaters have it all: good sightlines, reasonable ticket prices, cult movie screenings, pre-show entertainment that’s actually entertaining, and staffers who will eject audience members who talk on their phones during the film. I don’t need the Drafthouse’s #swag to remind me of that, especially since it has led the chain to an unfortunate history of (re)hiring sexual predators and minimizing harassment. They’ll need to do more than hold a series of “sexism in cinema” screenings to put that right.
If you can overlook the ’tude, one of the more enticing features of the Drafthouse in Denton (and the other locations) is its gastropub, The Vetted Well. The food coming out of that kitchen demands to be taken seriously.
I normally don’t go for chicken meatballs ($10), but my order, slathered in ricotta cheese that lent texture and depth of flavor to the meat, was served alongside garlic bread and tomato fondue. The banh mi hot dog ($12.50) showed just how well sriracha and cilantro complement those familiar beef links. Sometimes it’s the little touches that make a dish, like the nutty-tasting black and white sesame seeds on the bun of my Fancy Pants burger ($15), loaded with brie and a cabernet onion jam.
The theater serves its brunch dishes all day, and my server warned me that the over-hard-cooked eggs on my fried egg BLT ($12.50) wouldn’t be runny. I found the results just fine, especially since I opted for the side of fruit instead of French fries (which are quite good). The mix of sliced bananas, strawberries, and (especially) apples perfectly accompanied the bacon in the comfort-food staple.
The Drafthouse prides itself on its considerable rotating collection of seasonal craft beers, and the bar staff will happily explain to you the nuances of the pecan porter or grapefruit IPA on the chalkboard, or they’ll just pour a small sample for you to try. Then again, you could go for a dessert like the sour cream cake doughnuts ($8) served alongside a blueberry compote, whose bracing acidity beautifully shone through the decadent crème fraîche. Or, you could split the difference and order a grown-up milkshake like my Mexican hot chocolate ($8), featuring a sinus-clearing amount of habanero pepper.
Sadly, this location doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles that I’ve experienced at the Drafthouse in the Cedars in Dallas, which rotates in whole new menu items pegged to specific movies — I still remember the aloo chaat I ate before I watched The Big Sick — and also has TV screens that allow you to catch the big game before or after your show. I hope this theater located near I-35 eventually adds those extra touches, and I really hope it’s a friendly place for the women who work there. Now that would be badass.
Editor’s note: Your regular Chow, Baby columnist is on leave but will return soon.