How can it be fair to charge over £5.00 for a hot dog. If cinemas reduced their admission prices they would be full every day. I recently saw a film at the Odeon, Leicester Square and I was the only person in there. If I owned a cinema, I would half all prices, show a better selection of British films and ban all the 3D rubbish. A hot dog would cost no more that £2.00 and coffee would be £1.50, served in a small vending cup. I would also provide rubbish bins for customers. The other day I had to walk fifty yards up the street to throw away my cinema purchases.
So who sells the best cinema food in London?
Read our run-down of the locations that excelled in the cinema food stakes
So here it is, the Time Out film team's inaugural cinema food Oscars, where we award London's cinemas for their excellence in the field of film munchies.
Best overall – Curzon Soho
An unrivalled triple-tier offering gets the Curzon Soho slapped with our highest honour: London’s best overall provider of cinema food and drink. On the street level, a Konditor & Cook concession sells a wide selection of coffee, cakes (extra marks for the ‘Slag’ cup cakes), biscuits and savouries, including what one of us considered the best sausage roll he’d ever tasted. One floor below you’ll find a bar with a decent range of alcohol, including 14 varieties of beer, seasonal cocktails and a good wine list plus a selection of deluxe finger food. Down one more level is a trad popcorn concession with all the usual fizzy pop. There is something for all pockets and palates: what more could you want?
Best booze – BFI Southbank, Waterloo
You can’t avoid a bar at BFI Southbank – and nor should you. There’s one at the front and another at the back, and the range of wine and beer is outstanding. The Riverfront bar offers no less than 24 beers, including Belgian specialities like Duvel and ciders on draught, while the Benugo bar at the back offers a slightly smaller selection. They both serve a range of high-quality wines, with prices ranging from £3.95 to £6 for a small glass. You can, of course, take all booze into the venue’s three cinemas, which is a recent evolution – you used to be able to drink only water in the NFT.
Best ice cream – Ritzy Cinema, Brixton
We like the Jude brand of ice cream as sold at The Lexi, Everyman Cinemas and The Aubin. But it’s the Ritzy in Brixton that cleans up with a double-whammy from two of the country’s finest whippers. Take your pick from a choice of four flavours courtesy of Roskilly’s of Cornwall (including orange and mascapone) and two refreshing sorbets (lemon and mango) made by London’s own Marine Ices, based in Chalk Farm. Tubs are £2.50 a hit. Roskilly’s also supplies the other Picturehouses at Greenwich, Clapham, The Gate and Stratford.
Best homemade food – The Rio Cinema, Dalston
The Rio adds to the usual pop and popcorn by serving up tasty samosas ‘made by a family down the road’ and slices of local cake in various flavours.
Best sweets – Various cinemas
There’s no overall winner: the Picturehouse and Everyman chains do a nice range of fancy bespoke tubs (chocolate-covered orange peel, white-chocolate rasperries), most of the West End chains have mouthwatering but pricy pick ’n’ mix selections (at about £1.30 per 100g) and the Rio caught our eye by selling normal sweets (Fruit Pastilles, Maltesers etc) for normal shop prices, as opposed to the usual drastic concession-stand mark-up.
Best innovation – The Everyman Cinemas, Belsize Park and Hampstead
What stands out most about two of London’s four Everyman Cinemas is that you can order food from your seat. Choose from a range of quiches or indulge in some fancy Mediterranean finger foods like Olympia Kalamata olives with diced feta and sundried tomatoes or mild chilli peppers stuffed with feta cheese (£4 a go).
Most civilised – The Electric Cinema, Ladbroke Grove
The Electric in Portobello Road reflects the bijou atmosphere of Notting Hill with an in-cinema bar stocked with fancy wines and foreign beers, while serving up a classy range of freshly baked bourgeois delights including chicken quesadillas, hummus and flatbread and veggie sticks with dips. How very.
Best newcomer – The Lexi Cinema, Kensal Rise
We’re impressed by the offerings at the single-screen Lexi in Kensal Rise, which opened its doors in 2008. The venue’s food-and-drink stall is compact but it manages to offer a good selection of booze, soft drinks, coffee, sweets and ice cream. The cinema has also brokered a 2-for-1 deal at local restaurant The Diner every Thursday.
Best value – Prince Charles cinema, Leicester Square
Just as it offers reduced cinema tickets for films finishing their West End run, the Prince Charles maintains low prices on its food concession too. The selection is no frills, but you can pick up a large soft drink for £2.70 or a large popcorn for £3.70, and while that may still sound steep, you won’t find cine-snacks as cheap anywhere nearby.
Best combo deal – The Picturehouse Cinemas
Gluttons take note: most cinemas offer food deals, so you’ll probably be able to pick up all the staples for a knock-down price. London’s best combo is offered by the Picturehouse chain, where you can pick up a small drink, a small popcorn and either a jar of nibbles, a packet of chocolate or an ice cream for a reasonable £6.50.
Most unusual food – The Everyman Cinemas
The Everymans offer ‘chocolate-covered edamame’ – which says it all really.