Quirky ways of watching movies are all the rage. In this week’s Whatever next?, Cath Clarke visits one that matches food to the film.
Edible Cinema at the Electric sounds like a fancy-pants version of that game kids play. Where you are blindfolded with a tea towel and force-fed something horrible out of the kitchen cupboard. No? Maybe that was just my house. But this being Notting Hill – where they have sophisticated palates and fine dining – it’s experimental cuisine instead of curry powder. And you tuck into the mystery food while watching a movie.
Tonight we’re watching ‘Withnail & I’. And I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a bit sniffy and so-so about this. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘Withnail’, but last time I watched it, I was at my friend Jon’s house. We were students; he shared his kitchen with a rat. Which feels about the right level of squalor for ‘Withnail’. Whereas the Electric Cinema is picture-palace perfection – all chandeliers, leather armchairs and cashmere blankets (even beds on the front row for smoochers). The night starts with a gin-fizz cocktail and onstage, a glamorous lady holds up numbered cards which correspond to trays we’re given containing eight numbered boxes.
Up goes placard number one. On screen Withnail is slathering himself in Deep Heat to keep warm. We open a little toothpaste tube and squirt the contents on our tongue. And? Holy hell! It’s exactly how you imagine Deep Heat to taste – in a good way. A couple of minutes later Withnail is knocking back lighter fluid. Card number two. We take a slug… of what? If you asked me to tell you what this is, I’d say lighter fluid. But the menu says it’s Bombay Sapphire gin, crème de peche and lemon juice. And so it goes on, matching boxes to genius one-liners. A boozy cake in Penrith, and, yes, a Camberwell carrot – but not where you think. We eat ours as good old Uncle Monty waxes lyrical about a very ‘firm, young carrot’.
I’m sold. A warning though: Edible Cinema does not replace a proper dinner. I leave with a slightly swishy-in- the-stomach feeling. But not exactly full up. Also – no fault this of Edible Cinema – I could murder a drink. ‘Withnail’ is the booziest film ever, and maybe it’s me, but a cocktail and a slug of lighter fluid hasn’t totally hit the spot. Would I go again? Definitely, after a big lunch. In the meantime I’m off to the pub. I demand to have some booze!