Brunch + a Movie Pairing: Free Willy with a Side of Toutant

Cinema, Culture & Arts, Things to Do


Written by Emma Janicki-Gechoff

Published on April 6, 2016

Free Willy

It may seem old and tired by now, but there’s a reason we all grow up knowing about “dinner and a movie” dates. Likely it was the first type of date you went on. Maybe going to the movies was how you could scope out cute kids from other schools. Although many of us can reminisce about the good ole’ days of dinner and a movie, it might not be our go-to date anymore. Now that Buffalo has so many new activities to try out, you might feel a little boring suggesting dinner and a movie.

Have no fear – the classic date is still here!

Since Buffalo has a wealth of movie theaters specializing in out-of-date, second-run, international, quirky, and downright unknown independent films, suggesting a dinner and a movie doesn’t mean you’ve thrown in the towel. It means you spent time looking for a way to break the Netflix and chill cycle while still keeping comfy in those lovely red chairs that theaters never fail to have. It means you can snuggle up during the movie, then go out after to have deep conversations about the mise-en-scène.

So for each weekend of the month, Step Out Buffalo has made a new kind of pairing – not of the wine and cheese or meat and beer varieties. A cool movie plus a creative restaurant choice means serious props to you.


Film: Free Willy

North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.

Showtime: 11:30 a.m. Sat., April 9 and Sun., April 10


Restaurant: Toutant

437 Ellicott St., Buffalo

Restaurant Info >>

As hard as I try to recommend grown-up films for all us grown-ups, I keep getting sucked back into screenings of classic children’s films. This weekend North Park Theatre is showing the 90’s classic Free Willy.

Free Willy is the inspiring tale of an orca whale and a teenage boy who manage to outsmart a greedy marina owner and – spoiler alert – get Willy to safety and freedom in the open ocean.

Interestingly, the whale that played Willy, Keiko, had his own story of getting his freedom. After being sold from performance role to performance role at amusement parks and ending with his stint as Willy, Warner Brothers Studio began working to find Keiko a home that would rehabilitate him and potentially prepare him for the wild. Keiko eventually was released into the open ocean and spent a year truly at sea before he died, likely of pneumonia.

My first instinct was to recommend a seafood restaurant – yes, yes, cruel and ironic in many ways – but a more tempered suggestion is downtown’s Southern gem, Toutant. Yes, Toutant does serve some yummy seafood for brunch and dinner but for those who maybe won’t want to gobble up Willy’s distant neighbors and kin, there’s a great selection of other Southern dishes to enjoy.

Biscuits and Gravy at Toutant in Buffalo NY

Biscuits and Gravy at Toutant / Step Out Buffalo

For brunch, a plate of barbecue hash will run you $15, shrimp and grits is $18, and if you’re looking for some daytime alcohol, the lobster Caesar (which, from a Google search seems to be a super popular cocktail up in Canada) is $8. Toutant’s brunch is definitely on the pricier side for a Buffalo joint but dishing out the dollars for true comfort food once in a while is worth it. Read more about our experience at Toutant (during dinner).

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