When was the last time you complained about the price of a cinema ticket? The discussion about how prices have risen and quality has diminished amongst every one of the high street chains has become an all too familiar discussion in our household. But, happily, the trend for independent UK cinemas is set to continue rising during 2014, meaning a pleasurable experience for the whole family at an entirely reasonable price. Alongside the established Everyman group, the Olympic Cinema in Barnes, London, is the latest South England boutique cinema addition, with an intriguing history steeped in rock and roll. It has returned to it's decadent show theatre roots, after spending years in between as an awesome recording studio.
Before the main feature films are shown, a short film of the history of this striking building reveals footage of musical legends such as the Rolling Stones recording in the very studio that the audience is sat in. On screen, rolls the line 'Abbey Road had the Beatles. we had everyone else...' - although don't be fooled that easy, the Beatles did also record at the Olympic. Any music fan will be in awe at the list; Led Zepplin, Queen, Procol Harem, Pink Floyd, David Bowie... the list goes on. And the building's renovation is empathetic to its grandiose musical history; plush red velvet seats and sofas with side tables to host the cups of coffee, glasses of wine and bags of retro style sweets or popcorn.
After a trip to the sweet stand, we saw the Muppets Christmas Carol - part of the Christmas Kids Club, in unrivalled comfort. You can book the double 'love seat' sofas or individual reclining chairs. Happily, the Kids film club is set to continue into the new year every Saturday morning at 1030am. During our screening, we were surrounded by a whole host of (under the age of 10) film goers, all of whom sat through the entire film without making a peep, except to laugh along with us at Rizzo the Rat being turned into an ice pop or at Gonzo joining in with the annual penguin ice skating party.
The cinema is also a great place to visit for 'date night', too. A selection of new release films are shown daily, including blockbusters such as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Check the website for full and up to date details. The smaller Screen 2 will be open by the end of January 2014, too, meaning lots more lovely films being shown at the Olympic to tempt us into those cosy love seats.
Post-film, a short wander down the grand, dark wooden staircase and through the vintage reception area, is the cinema's restaurant, the Olympic Café & Dining Room. We were greeted by host Edward, a cheery chap born and bred in the local area, and who was raving about the cinema (and the Muppets Christmas Carol) as much as we were. With a large pile of patisserie items already stacked up on a tantalising plinth, and chefs at work cooking up a culinary storm in front of you, we dare your mouth not to water and your stomach not to rumble as soon as you walk in. Duck egg blue, seashell pink and cream and soft leather decorate the dining area which is elegant yet comfortable.
Between us, we ate a salad of chicken, bacon and blue cheese, with a side of hand cut chips, steak, and more chips, and 'the world's finest hot dog' with crispy onions... and yet more chips. The pastry selection changes throughout the day and you can expect to find tasty morsels such as sausage rolls, pies and tarts. You don't need to be visiting the cinema to visit the restaurant, you can do either or both - although we would highly recommend always doing both in tandem! Smaller, child-sized portions are available, as are some rather delicious looking sharing plates - we definitely need to go back to test those out...
Check the Olympic Cinema website for the latest screening information. The Kids club will be showing Cinderella on January 11, 2014 at 1030am and Aladdin on January 18, 2014 at 1030am.
Adult - £15
Child (14 or under) - £7.50
Double seats - £30
Before 4pm (Monday to Thursday) and for Kids' Club tickets at 1030am on Saturday mornings:
Adult: - £10
Child (14 or under): - £5
Double seats - £20
Olympic Cinema, 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 8HL
For updates, follow: @Olympic_Cinema