If you’ve walked into either one of the Bow Tie Cinemas in Norwalk lately, you and I likely had the same reaction. I froze for multiple seconds. I’m certain my “wow” face was visible, mouth hitting the ground cartoon-style and all. I marveled at the renovations at the SoNo Ultimate Regent 8, the movie theater I grew up going to since it opened, and now it’s unrecognizable in the best way possible.
Gone are the packed-in, partially broken seats, that have been replaced by padded, comfier electric recliners so you can put your feet up, kick back, and zone-out during a film. As a frequent moviegoer, that’s awesome, but this is a food site. I’m here to dish about the revamped concession stand that you’ll not only see in the South Norwalk Bow Tie, but also at the Ultimate Royal 6 on Westport Avenue, and soon at the Trumbull Marquis 6 with construction slated for early November.
The upgraded concession area includes a full bar, with menus put in place by local restauranteur Greer Fredericks (Mama’s Boy, Peaches), who consulted on the project with assistance from Thomas Siano, who runs the bar program at her current restaurant.
The goal, aside from making tastier movie food, was to keep costs un-theater like, and comparable to restaurant prices. While popcorn and bucket-sized sodas are still high, the pizzas, sandwiches, and other bites are in the $5-$11 range. Drinks may be the best bargain of all; cocktails are $10 (also available in a carafe for $22), beer will run you $5-$7, and wine and spirits go for $7-$15.
The cocktail list includes four mixed drinks; a seasonal sangria, the light-drinking and refreshing “The Cooler” (sweet tea vodka, lemonade, agave nectar, lime), a pleasantly spicy margarita, and their take on a Mai Tai, appropriately named the “Bow Tai” (dark rum, curacao, Bajan punch, Luxardo Cherry). The latter namesake cocktail was a personal favorite; easy to drink, and packs a low-key boozy punch. If you’re into wine or spirits, you’ll find almost every style offered, so I’ll leave that to your tastes. If you’re all about beer, generic and craft brands are represented, but so are CT local brews like New England Brewing’s Sea Hag, Two Roads Hefeweizen and ‘Ol Factory Pils, and Thimble Island Lager. COO Joseph Masher mentioned that he’s noticed people stopping by just to have a few drinks. I believe it. I’ll likely follow suit sometime.
Coming from the kitchen—yeah, seriously, kitchen—are items that are easy to eat while you’re in your seat. Kids—and some adults—will be thrilled with additions of chicken fingers, sweet potato (and regular shoestring) fries, tots, Belgian waffles with syrup, grilled cheese (options to add tomato, bacon, or both), and cinnamon twist sticks with vanilla frosting for dipping. There are more substantial offerings for larger appetites like chicken parm or buffalo chicken heroes, vegetarian health bowls, ham & cheese on a croissant, chicken fingers & waffles, three-cheese mac & cheese with Ritz Cracker crumb topping, Philly cheesesteak egg rolls, and three different pizza choices (NY style, Margherita, and “Green” with pesto, mozzarella, basil). The pizza isn’t bad. The Margherita I ordered came out crispy with a slight chew, and the homemade red sauce was bright, acidic, and ultimately better than I expected from movie house pizza.
There were two menu items that surprised me. The mega-sized Bavarian pretzel is an improvement over that Soft-Pretzel supermarket brand you’ve seen in the frozen aisle. This pretzel was softer, crustier on the outside, and served with tangy whole grain mustard and a side of cheese sauce to douse it in. A big pretzel and a beer would make me a happy boy during a movie. Also delicious were the eggplant fries; breaded, deep-fried, sticks of eggplant, covered in their red sauce and melted mozzarella. It’s a win because I don’t enjoy eggplant very much, but loved this. Another favorite aside from the “surprises” was the popcorn. Bow Tie’s classic popcorn as you knew it is still there, but so are some interchangeable new flavors like sour cream & chive, cheddar, caramel (cue the drool), chocolate drizzled, and churro.
Additionally, popcorn, drinks, and candy are the only things you’ll likely have to wait for, because of the way the ticketing system works. You purchase your ticket at the cashier, on the Bow Tie Cinemas app, or at the DIY kiosk, where you’ll be asked to select as assigned seat. When it’s time to order food that’s cooked to order, they’ll scan your ticket, you’ll pay, then everything gets delivered to your seat before the start of the movie if you don’t feel like lingering in the lobby.
Norwalk has needed these new amenities for a while now, and it seems with the few theaters that are finished with upgrades, with another starting soon, and hopefully more on the horizon, that Bow Tie Cinemas is starting to live up to its “Moviegoing the way it used to be, only better” slogan.