Life in downtown Hattiesburg is all about reinvention. Businesses come and go, spaces are reimagined, and the creative drive of local entrepreneurs brings a steady flow of new life to the ever-changing scene.
So, it came as no surprise when Tom White announced that long-time downtown favorite 206 Front would re-open with a new concept and a new name.
In December 2016, Front Street Bar opened its doors to Hattiesburgers excited to see the return of one of downtown’s favorite destinations.
Looking back; facing forward
In its newest iteration, Front Street Bar operates as an upstairs bar and patio. They serve wine, a selection of local and nationally-distributed beers, and tasty mixed drinks alongside an inventive menu of bar snacks and sandwiches that pays homage to the 206 menu while keeping up with current food trends.
We won’t hold you in suspense: Yes, Front Street Bar continues the time-honored tradition of the 206 Happy Hour. Every Tuesday to Saturday, from 3 to 7 p.m., they offer house wines and single-liquor well drinks for $2.06.
The patio is back!
We can’t think of a better way to pass the time than with a few good friends on the best patio downtown, while enjoying a good G&T and a shared plate of Garlic Fries.
Who doesn’t love the Front Street Bar patio? With its unique second-story vista and cool breezes, it’s one of the best places to indulge in the Pine Belt’s unofficial pastime – alfresco cocktails.
Drinks and snacks
Front Street Bar shows its love for Hattiesburg by offering inventive mixed drinks named after familiar locales. The Avenues features a vodka base with bright citrus flavors and a hint of raspberry from luxurious Chambord liqueur.
It goes down as easily as you can navigate the numbered streets it’s named after.
The Avenues pairs beautifully with Front Street Bar’s Crab Cakes.
These tasty morsels are crab-packed, plentifully seasoned and sautéed crisp. The golden rounds are topped with a house-made remoulade (white, not red) made tangy by a liberal dose of creole mustard.
The tapas-sized portions won’t spoil your supper, so feel free to indulge during Happy Hour, then round out the evening with a favorite from the 206 menu – the Portabella Sandwich.
This sandwich sports pesto mayo and roasted red peppers and – if you are like us – will take you right back to your college days when Friday night started at 206 with happy hour drinks and a favorite vegetarian offering.
Keeping it light? Try a Gulf Coast Twilight martini and the Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella app. The lovely violet-hued martini would taste fantastic with Front Street Bar’s take on the classic Caprese.
Looking for a flavor-packed combo? Make it a Railroad Street with Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. The gussied-up gin- and-tonic will pair perfectly with southwestern-inspired, succulent shrimp.
Live music, naturally
206 Front was one of the first restaurants in town to offer free live music during the early evening hours. Local musicians who are now household names cut their teeth on acoustic performances in the upstairs bar.
Front Street Bar continues the tradition and offers free live music every Wednesday night, featuring local favorites like Thomas Jackson, Scott Chism and the Better Half, Mark Mann and Cary Hudson. The line-up gives Hattiesburgers a great opportunity to listen to musicians who have put in hard time in the local music scene in an intimate environment.
Private events, too
The downstairs dining room at Front Street Bar now operates as a full-service event space, offering the tremendous convenience of catering, bartending and equipment all under one roof.
One of Hattiesburg’s most inviting dining spaces is now available for private events, and the locale serves beautifully for small to mid-sized parties, receptions and banquets.
Front Street staff works side-by-side with event planners to tailor the menu, bar, service, music and decor to perfectly meet your needs.
Recently, Hub City Spokes, in partnership with presenting sponsor First Bank, held the inaugural Best of the Pine Belt Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner at the downstairs venue.
We were honored to dine with some of Hattiesburg’s busiest movers-and-shakers while celebrating the people who make us proud to call this city home.
We’re here to talk food, though, so let’s not beat around the bush.
The evening began with passed appetizers and drinks. Front Street’s take on baked brie paired perfectly with a crisp white or a tall pour of Slow Boat Brewing Company’s Blue Canoe, brewed with blueberries and named in homage to the song of the same name by Hall of Fame honoree Cary Hudson.
While Hudson performed fan favorites, we dug in to yeasty wedges of pumpernickel bread topped with petite rounds of melty brie and a luscious mango chutney.
The lip-smacking appetizer course gave way to a unique first course. Event planners smuggled blueberries from Cary Hudson’s own farm and the Front Street crew transformed them into a blueberry gazpacho.
This cold soup was more savory than sweet, and the lush blueberry flavor was accented with a savory garlic note and bright punches of basil.
This unique offering – in our eyes – was an example of catering greatness. Using a locally-sourced ingredient with a personal, thematically-appropriate touch and turning it into a delicious dish was a truly special moment and one of our favorite parts of a spectacular evening.
For the entree, diners sharing a table of eight enjoyed two family-style dishes. Passing shared dishes gave the event an intimate, familiar atmosphere, and saved us all from the difficult decision between chicken or shrimp.
First up was the Chicken Spiedini, a dish with Italian flair, featuring a roulade of juicy
chicken breast seasoned with a citrus tang, filled with a zippy Parmesan, and coated with a golden crust of fine bread crumbs.
These delicious rolls were served on a bed of Alfredo pasta. The sauce offered hints of the nuttiness of browned butter and a touch of milky sweetness from cream, which clung luxuriously to the perfectly-cooked pasta.
Our personal favorite, however, was the Shrimp with Gorgonzola Sauce over Polenta.
Plump Gulf shrimp, cooked to the exactly-right stage of doneness perched atop diamonds of firmly-textured polenta, which were then draped with Front Street’s silky Gorgonzola cream sauce.
This sauce had a near-cult following in the days of 206, and for good reason. In this application, the funky tang of Gorgonzola and satiny cream base pairs perfectly with the briny shrimp and the whole dish is anchored by the fresh corn flavor of the polenta.
Dessert, of course
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and Hall of Fame guests were treated to a perfectly-sized portion of chocolate mousse.
This decadent dessert is rich, but light, with sweetness tempered by the bitterness of dark chocolate.
The mousse feels fancy without being fussy, and is the perfect ending note for an all-around fantastic meal.
So, whether you are in the mood for a bite to eat and a great happy hour, jonesing for some quality live music or planning a smashing private party, Front Street Bar is back in action and ready to knock your socks off.
Long-time Hattiesburg residents Jason and Autumn Perry have done their time in local kitchens. Jason started the menu at T-Bones and is currently in the kitchen at the Keg and Barrel. Autumn and Jason created the menu at the Thirsty Hippo and are excited to work together again on Signature restaurant features.