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Te culinary craft of cinema confectionery is usually an easy one to grasp. 1. Take bucket. 2. Fill bucket. 3. Take out mortgage to afford bucket. From then on you spend 2 hours gazing at a wall of glowing lights while continuously shovelling popcorn into your own gaping maw with a pair of sticky grabbers. Cinema grub rarely ventures further than this, perhaps with the exception of a lonely, slowly rotating sausage yearning for a hotdog bun that never comes. Or maybe a plastic pallet of nachos coated overzealously with a substance generously called cheese. Cinema City is not like this. iIt is cultured, it is dignified, it is stylish. Tis was always set to be a strikingly different dining experience.

46 / July 2016/

THE ATMOSPHERE High vaulted ceilings, dark panelled wood, intricate carvings and leaded windows with stained glass crests; the bar area screams feudal chic. Tis medieval spectacle contrasted with clean modern furniture and a smooth jazz soundtrack creates a refined and unusual atmosphere. Moving from here we took our seats in the Dining Rooms, the oldest part of the building. Set in intimate stone vaults it feels like we should be served a whole boar while King Henry 8th slaps us jovially on the back and eyes up his next spouse. An eclectic mix of metal light fittings held in place by stout ancient iron rings driven deep in the masonry, this is very definitely the present but anchored in the past.

THE STARTER Deep fried crispy haloumi, sweet chili mayonnaise and chicory salad. Tis comes served on a board with the components carefully arranged like a Neolithic stone circle; it’s as if an ancient civilisation is trying to communicate to us through the medium of unripened cheese. It is placed with care by our server to line up exactly for the summer solstice – or to avoid my beer. Tis is a tactile dish, begging to be eaten by hand. Boats of chicory leaves give a satisfying, hearty crunch. Filled with spinach and watercress, it adds a bitter tone which contrasts with the sweet mayo. Tis is a great way to kick off.

THE MAIN EVENT My eye was drawn to the beef, blue cheese, walnut and watercress salad. Another wonderfully presented dish, a palisade of chicory leaves holds the shape of the salad. Te beef is soft and tender and coated liberally with a blue cheese sauce. Walnuts and crumbly nuggets of more cheese leave a pleasant umami aftertaste.

We also had the veggie board, which could more accurately be described as an adult pizza and chips. Te Feta and butternut pizza was a treat, around 5” in diameter and on a chunky and crisp rosemary bread base it was an absolute treat. Pickled courgettes add some much needed sharpness but I was disappointed by the crispy bready artichoke hearts - they looked delicious but left an odd aftertaste. Overall though this was another winner.

DESSERTS We know Stonehenge, we’ve tried halloumi henge, how about cake henge? Another careful arrangement, this time of rich, heavy and deeply indulgent mini chocolate brownies with peanut butter, cream and a fudge sauce. Sticky, sickly and delicious - just like a brownie should be. Tis is very much the right way to finish off our meal.!

OVERALL A bite to eat at the cinema usually leaves me feeling sticky and barely satisfied. Hmmm, probably could have phrased that better… Especially considering the Dining Rooms at cinema city are a charming and visually striking setting to enjoy what was a really rather excellent meal. Each dish felt like it was conceived and composed with much care taken on both flavour and presentation. Te menu feels just as well curated as the list of independent and arthouse films advertised in the foyer.

James MacDonald


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