There’s something indulgent about having your dinner served in front of a film. At least, that’s how it feels as a smart, suited waitress brings sumptuous Wagyu beef and a glass of bubbles to my seat at Odeon’s new dine-in cinema in Islington Square.
The truth is I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of supper served mid-screening especially when it’s a tear-jerker like Little Women. Memories of mistimed munching and mid-film Slush Puppy spills have left me wary of taking popcorn to my seat, let alone anything that requires a knife and fork.
But here I am on my reclining sofa, feasting on sweet potato fries as Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg dance merrily across the beach, and this time none of my fellow filmgoers seem to have raised an eyebrow. Or so I assume, given I can’t actually see their faces from the grand leather thrones we’re all sunk into.
Everyone seems too engrossed in their meal to worry about me taking a bite of burger or a sip of Veuve Cliquot, though I do make sure not to pick up my cutlery during the more poignant scenes. Eating in the dark is dangerous enough before you introduce a knife into the equation.
The second darkness-induced stumbling block comes when I order dessert. Odeon boasts that you can request extra food and drink mid-film via its app, but what about no phones in the cinema? I turn the brightness down and pick an action-filled moment to panic-order a couple of ice cream sundaes.
A waiter arrives within minutes and I feel guilty for blocking the couple behind us until I spot a second staff member offering them a flatbread pizza and a cheeseboard. I guess everyone knew what they signed up for when they upgraded to a £18.25 ticket: no popcorn-shamers here.
The six-screen Odeon Luxe and Dine in Islington isn’t alone: the sparkling new underground movie house at Selfridges joins a new wave of silver-service cinemas. The three-screen theatre — the first in the world to open inside a department store — serves afternoon tea, sharing plates and elegant cocktails on red retro sofas in the lamp-lit lobby, while the in-screen food menu features much more than fancy bags of popcorn.
Dining is available in all three of its auditoriums. Cheese and charcuterie boards can be enjoyed with a glass of wine or a Martini at your seat, though these must be ordered before settling in, and there are bags of old-fashioned sweets for after — the perfect excuse to double up and settle in for a pre-Oscars movie marathon. Just make sure you’ve put your glass down during the tense battle scenes in 1917.
Fine dining, meanwhile, is coming to the big screen across the capital. Mile End’s Genesis Cinema serves pizzas, Rinkoff’s pastries and Pieminister pies to your seat; Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema offers pulled pork sandwiches and nachos as the action unfolds; and the Everyman in Hampstead serves hand-cut skin-on fries, pizzas and its signature Spielburgers direct to your sofa. Don’t miss the build-your-own sundaes for dessert.
Over on the South Bank, Sea Containers opens its blue velvet Curzon cinema for dinner and a movie every weekend. Filmgoers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings can enjoy posh brioche hotdogs and crispy mozzarella sticks in a candlelit 56-seat theatre.
In Catford, movie fans can choose from Scandi-inspired deli dishes, Japanese street food and Jamaican patties before one of the community screening at Catford Mews.
Match your food to the mood for ultimate sensory viewing: Odeon’s wild boar hotdogs for all-American Fox News movie Bombshell, say, or Selfridges’ caviar and salmon blinis for Jane Austen drama Emma, when it hits cinemas later this month. You’ll never want to go back to popcorn…