Today is the last day of the London Restaurant Festival. The festivities that have taken place since October 3rd involve an event called Eat Film, which features film screenings and themed dinners at various venues throughout London. Last week Eat Film invited me to the Charlotte Street Hotel in Noho to watch Chocolat and eat a three-course meal inspired by the film.
I arrived with a friend on Thursday evening at 6:30pm. We made our way down to the lower ground level and were greeted with a glass of Champagne. Shortly thereafter we made our way into the Charlotte Street Hotel’s screening room. Rows of brightly colored leather seats sat in front of a large screen, and the room filled up in anticipation of the film.
Before it started, we were welcomed with a short speech by former food journalist Lucas Hollweg. He offered us his impressions of the film and the magic behind certain foods, and soon we found ourselves watching Chocolat.
The film, which starred Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, was rich with chocolaty imagery and plenty of good food. By the time it was over, we were all ready for the dinner that awaited us upstairs in the hotel’s restaurant, Oscar.
We sat down in an area reserved for Eat Film guests and tucked into a London Restaurant Festival meal. Our first course was a smoked bacon and ham ballotine with an apple, parsley, and cob nut salad. I found it flavorful but a bit dry. Still, it was an appropriate starter for a French-themed meal.
The main course was a pot-roast Loire Valley guinea fowl with blackberries, Puy lentils, and kale. The poultry was pleasantly tender, and the accompanying flavors complimented it well. We enjoyed it with a Pinot Noir from New Zealand that was very jammy, but otherwise nice.
Dessert was, of course, chocolate. The rich chocolate torte with pistachio praline was as decadent as anything we had seen in the window of the film’s chocolaterie. As if the chocolate wasn’t enough, it came with a large dollop of ice cream that was sinfully delicious.
The evening was a success, and I enjoyed both the concept and the component parts. My only disappointment was that it wasn’t mentioned beforehand that wine was not included with the meal. I was surprised to get a bill for it at the end.
In any case, I was glad to have had the experience. Eat Film at the London Restaurant Festival was a creative way to mix food and cinema, and I can’t wait to see what combinations they have in store for next year.