Turn up to a random location to be led to a “dining experience” sounds like the beginnings of some kind of horror film, so the fact that my trip to the Secret Dining Society was focused around cinema food seemed fairly apt. (spoiler – it had a happy ending)
After pitching up to the Old Crown in Digbeth and finding some equally looking confused people we were rounded up and taken to the Custard Factory wherein we were offered some delicious chilli popcorn and nachos. Usually at the cinema I’m a bucket of Diet Coke and a sack of sweet popcorn kind of girl, so made-on-demand popcorn with a deliciously spicy edge could have me persuaded. And the nachos; the bready, creamy cheese sauce was just delicious. Plus there were drinks a-plenty, soft drinks or something a little stronger with a nice range of beers and wine.
We were then shepherded into the Custard Factory’s very own cinema and treated to some clips of some of the best food related clips from films – from When Harry Met Sally to Hook. Afterwards it was time for more popcorn, nachos…and CANDY FLOSS. I’ve never had candy floss in a cinema which is probably a good thing because part of the fun is ripping the clouds. Still having candy floss during the break was ace and even better they’ve managed to marry sweet spun sugar with savoury flavours. Perfect. We were then back in to round off the food clips before heading out for the main attraction.
Hot Dogs…with bacon bits and mustard and ketchup and salad and, if you wanted, hot sauce. And then seconds. The sausages were nice a meaty and there was proper mustard, plus plenty of salad. I ended up having to pull off half my toppings, so it was almost like eating twice.
Almost as though the food clips before were trailers, we settled down for the main show; a rather odd Japanese film called Tampopo. To be honest trying to explain this film would be rather miss the point of its oddness (although Wikipedia does a good job of explaining the plot if you really want to know), but coupled with some scoops of specially-made ice cream from local ice cream parlour Entices, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
There has been some criticism of the event as not being entirely food focused and I think this either missed the point of the event or showed the lack of imagination in the audience. Personally I was going for an experience with the promise of some good food, I never expected to be stuffed full like some sort of foie gras duck. What I got was some delicious food which is miles better than anything I’ve ever had at a cinema, watch a film I’d never normally have the chance to and a different way to spend a Sunday afternoon all focused on food. I’m not sure what was not to like.
The next Secret Dining Society is entitled Fire and is on the 18th August and tickets are available
here. I’m in London that day otherwise I would go.