The arts converge at Frontier Café, Cinema & Gallery

Just under an hour away, Brunswick offers an alternative to the regular downtown Waterville restaurant scene. Frontier Café, Cinema & Gallery is one of many shops and restaurants located in the heart of Brunswick, home to NESCAC rival Bowdoin College. The eclectic menu and inviting atmosphere coupled with a gallery wall to display local Maine artists, and a screening room and event venue all make Frontier a dynamic and versatile space where fine dining and the arts come together.

Even though vegan dishes don’t usually elicit excitement from most, these nachos, topped with cashew cheese, corn, and green onion are a can’t miss.

Founded by Michael Gilroy with the vision of bringing a global experience of food, music and art, Frontier encourages their guests to step outside of their comfort zones. According to their mission statement, Frontier is “committed to blending fresh local and seasonal ingredients, world flavors, and culinary traditions with engaging events that encourage cultural and community exchange. Frontier welcomes you to come in…and go beyond.”

The large dining area overlooks the Topsham Dam, with bright light streaming in from large windows, aided by funky overhead lighting. They have a full service bar as well as a large menu featuring interesting items such as a kimchi bowl, seared sea scallops, and a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches.  

Each dish is made with mastery and an artful touch reflecting the creative-minded space. One whole section of the menu is dedicated to a “market plate” option where diners can choose from pre-crafted cheese and hummus plates, or create their own from a variety of breads, meats and cheeses. These plates offer both local flavors as well as inspiration from around the world such as the Middle Eastern plate with falafel, tzatziki sauce, artichoke heart, grilled naan and much more. As a nod to Maine wildlife, their menu even includes a message about the restaurant’s commitment to serving exclusively and responsibly harvested seafood from the Gulf of Maine.

In addition to the more formal dining space, there is also a small café counter as you first enter the restaurant, serving handcrafted coffee drinks and pastries, easy for carrying out on cold Maine days.
Another important facet of Frontier is its gallery space. The gallery space in the dining room, which is distributed across several walls, features rotating exhibitions that show for about two to three months, according to their website. The current show, titled Material Possibilities, which runs from Oct. 3 to Nov. 13, is by local artist Mildred Johnson. The late artist’s works are in the media of assemblage art and other 2D works. The show features a range of abstract works on paper as well as 3D sculptures of hybrid materials such as wheels, nails and bells. This exhibit is curated by Susan Westly Wren of West Island Gallery, as noted on its website. All the works shown in Frontier’s gallery space are for sale, unless otherwise noted.

Frontier’s film exhibition showcases independent productions that cover a range of different genres including documentary, art, adventure and more. They are currently showing the documentary Trophy until Nov. 16. This film explores issues of animal conservation and commodification through the eyes of directors Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau. Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for students and children.

Frontier also offers a space for small, intimate live music in a seated environment. They host a range of artists from jazz to folk and everything in between. An upcoming show on Nov. 22 features LQH, a Portland based jazz trio that performs its own music in addition to covering other artists. Admission is free.

If you happen to drop by for any of these upcoming events, don’t miss Frontier’s selection of Maine root sodas as well as their delicious vegan nachos for a twist on your usual pub fare. Frontier’s restaurant hours are Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Friday to Saturday 11a.m.-10p.m. and Sun 11a.m.-9p.m. You can check out more about their upcoming exhibitions, shows and screenings with the following link: https://www.explorefrontier.com/events/all.