Screening Rooms Cafe Cinema
The Longer Read If you haven’t been to Cheltenham Screening Rooms before, the comparison is with First Class travel on an airline. The latest films (TICK), armchair style seating (TICK), limited food served in low-level lighting (TICK). Check in and entry via a series of gloomy tunnels (TICK). And, of course, airline style pricing: £19.80 for a full price walk-in adult ticket, versus £11.50.
The Screening Rooms are in the Brewery Quarter around the corner from the Cosy Club.
Three screens seat 30-50 people each and (TICK ) no under 18s allowed in after 5pm. It’s a policy which some airlines might like to consider.
The Screening Rooms USP
The price difference is either worth it or not according to your priorities. What you get for your money is a little bit of luxury and smaller audiences. It makes for a quieter, more civilised atmosphere). The thing that really gets the middle classes excited is the chance to order a G&T and some olives. You can pretend you’re in Paris or something. You do , however, slightly lose the communal, big crowd atmosphere of sell out movies.
The other thing that got the chattery classes excited was the prospect of an adventurous film schedule. Some arthouse or foreign language films to brighten up the dross. Sadly (bar a bit of opera and live theatre broadcasts) this hasn’t really materialised. The Screening Rooms are, after all, part of Cineworld. If any of the really large blockbuster movie franchises, say James Bond, has something out, it will often be on all three screens.
Food at the Screening Rooms
Anyway, our plans to order quite a lot of food were dashed. On arriving we were told that there was a problem with the ovens. We had to amend plans and order some cold items. So, for us, no Nachos with Melted Cheese (£5.50), Crispy Chilli Beef with Sweet Chilli Dip (£4.50) or Aromatic Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet Chilli Dip (£4.50). The single most expensive item is a Gourmet Hot Dog at £5.50 – Smoked Brockwurst (sic), brioche bun plus pickles etc. So, fair play, an improvement on the usual, frankly crap-but-high-markup, cinemas offering. And not outrageously priced.
We ordered a Cappuchino (£2.50) Pot of Tea (£2.50), Flatbread and Hummus (£3.50) and Chocolate Cake (£3.50).
Eating Crisps at the Screening Rooms
At that point the film started and the lights went down. The people in front of us arrived with boxed pizza from nearby Prezzo. Some people on the right started eating crisps. From the sound of it from a small bag of Walkers hidden inside a large bag of Walkers. This is unusual for the Screening Rooms. Here usually the gravelly sound of popcorn is replaced by the clink of cutlery. I suspect the staff had allowed in a pizza for some hungry punters, due to the oven problem in house.
Coffee was OK (Illy?). Tea was OK – although served with hot milk for some reason. When I went to the bar, they only had full cream milk, which is gross. The flatbread was great and the hummus really quite good. Chocolate cake was surprisingly good too, not too sweet.
Prices at the Screening Rooms
Bar prices are reasonable. G&T (£3.80) or ££4.80 with Hendricks. Beers are pretty bland – Peroni, Corona, San Miguel, London Pride etc. However, the prices are bearable for a night out (£3.20 to £4.00). There’s wine by the bottle too – a bottle of Veuve Cliquot is £45, not that much more than you’d pay in a supermarket*. There’s a good Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Itynera) for £16.50 that is about a tenner retail and is a bit of a bargain – all cherries and berries.
Don’t the Screening Rooms Show Films Too?
This review is about the food, not the movies, although it’s worth saying that we made the mistake of going to see Arthur Legend of the Sword. It was a film so dreadful that I was grateful for the airline seating and had a quick snooze. Something I’ve never managed on a plane.
Like getting upgraded on a flight, it’s a pleasure to go to the Screening Rooms, the staff are cheerful and you feel a bit spoilt.
*Not that I would.