A night at the theater

Let's be honest: there is only one real reason to plan an evening out in Wilton and that's to visit the Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Upon moving to NH from the Hudson Valley Region of New York, I mourned the loss of my Sunday ritual – catching an indie matinée at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck and then dining at one of the fine restaurants there. Discovering the Wilton Town Hall Theatre eased this blow with its rotation of independent film offerings and small town historic charm. (Of note, a red curtain covers the screen and opens before the start of each movie.)

Finding a restaurant to dine at beforehand was the challenge, however, and I finally settled on hopping just over the border to give the Mile Away a try. Although I've covered Milford in a previous "Evening Out," I focused more on the center of town and figured my readers would allow me the poetic license to try a more out-of-the-way spot.

First piece of advice: MAKE A RESERVATION. Since the movie ("Argo") was starting at 7:30 p.m., my date and I planned to dine at the Mile Away on the earlier side so we'd have time to enjoy the multi-course prix-fixe experience. I honestly thought we wouldn't have a problem getting a table at 5 p.m. and even convinced my date of such, but I woefully miscalculated the fact that this restaurant is Blue Hair Heaven. After standing in the lobby listening to the phone ring off the hook, the hostess finally returned to the doily-clad podium and greeted us with a dry "do you have a reservation?" When I sheepishly admitted that no, in fact, I didn't think I'd need to make one at such an early hour, she scolded me with her gaze. I slinked into the rest-room to regroup and quickly strategize a backup plan before dragging my date back out in the cold. But before I could get out my "how do you feel about McDonald's?" joke, my date informed me that a table had miraculously become available while I was powdering my nose. I thought he had dropped the "do you know who she is?" bomb in my absence but, alas, the ringing phone had chimed in a cancellation. We were saved!

Tucked in with a glass of red wine (me) and a bottled beer (him), we realized we were surrounded by empty tables. We shared this observation with our nice-but-struggling server and she informed us that many locals have standing weekly or monthly reservations and the Mile Away is their Big Night Out. I found this completely endearing and began to study the couples that shuffled in around us while we picked at rounds of stuffed oysters, Swedish meatballs, salad, prime rib and stuffed haddock. The most adorable senior couple we saw carefully cut and placed bits of their meals on each other's plate while chatting animatedly.

Even with the early start, we barely had time to finish our desserts before rushing out to the movie. But since the people-watching was the star of the show at the Mile Away, this was of no mind. After the film and some of the Wilton Town Hall Theatre's famous popcorn, we made our way to the somewhat newly opened Memphis BBQ & Blues to see the live blues stylings of Professor Harp. The crowd here was mature and casual, getting up to dance two or three at a time in the small amount of floor space available in front of the band. The lead guitarist spent his entire break chatting with us about various pieces of sound equipment including a cool-looking tall stick of a speaker that I was fascinated with. Having lugged some bad mama jamas in a previous DJ life, I was glad to see this advancement in sound technology.