Where Jetsons Meet Mad Men
Magic time machine: The Front Room offers a glimpse of the future from the 1960s
Fifty years ago this month, The Jetsons premiered, which makes it an opportune time for the Front Room to open. Bear with us. We will make sense.
The new restaurant at Hotel Lumen is billed as an “upscale diner,” and because it sits in the heart of University Park, there’s definitely an emphasis on “upscale.” The retro décor feels like the Jetsons’ world of 2062, if the 1960s view of 100 years into the future were adjusted for modern style. So, really, it’s retro and modern and future, and it’s all set up as a diner, so lots of brushed chrome, booths with plush leather seats, and light fixtures that would look futuristic to people in 1962 but look retro modern today.
Whew. Marty McFly had an easier time navigating the space-time continuum. Does your brain hurt just thinking about it? If so, this diner also serves some serious libations to ease the pain. With 80 liquors behind the bar, the Front Room specializes in Mad Men-type cocktails like the old fashioned and French 75.
The Front Room isn’t the kind of place where you get “wasted,” as the kids say.
Drinks start at $10, which is par for the course these days, but that old fashioned has enough bourbon in it to make us forget it cost a cool Hamilton. This isn’t the kind of place where you get “wasted,” as the kids say.
But as a quick-drink place before a dinner date in Uptown? Guys, you would, ahem, score major bonus points for picking this place. Front Room oozes cool, calm and relaxed. Although upscale, it lacks pretention, and the bartenders make it easy to settle in. For example, HGTV was playing on the TV at the bar, and the barkeep accurately observed we weren’t prone to watching Property Virginsand offered to change it to SportsCenter.
It’s the small things, people.
In addition to the aforementioned classics, the cocktail menu features “Front Room Originals,” which are described as “a modern twist on the ’60s cocktail classics, prepared our way.” We noticed something called the SMU Mustang Sally, and although we are broad-shouldered and our stubble grows in mere minutes after a fresh shave, we were tempted by the mixture of lime vodka, house-made lime sorbet, Licor 43, fresh mint and fresh ginger. Ultimately the garnish of grated nutmeg proved to be too much for our tastes. But your adventurous palate may desire something more interesting than whisk(e)y and grain alcohol. If so, by all means, put your flat feet on the ground. And report back promptly.
For giggles, we tried the edamame hummus. Typically we abstain from hummus for religious reasons (we’re Sith), but darn it if we didn’t nearly vacuum the entire plate into our munching cave. The other dishes sounded like food we would eat, but our knees got a little shaky when we noticed that the Frito pie was $15. Nat King Cole, take it away.
About the only thing that feels out of place is the patio. With its view of SMU, it sure seems like the perfect place to hang on a Sunday afternoon. What concerns us is the valeted cars glide barely two feet from the outdoor patrons, and there’s nary a partition or elevation to separate man from vehicle. It’s probably simple paranoia, but when your toes get crunched under a Maserati, don’t come crying to us.
This place isn’t perfect, but it sure is nice. As far as the Jetsons are concerned, we may not have flying cars or nine-hour work weeks, but at the halfway point, the Front Room lays a solid foundation for the next 50 years of progress. Its grand opening is this Thursday, September 20. On this day, alcohol is free, but expect to get charged for it every other day.