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By Anna H.

The days of late night bars and shots ’til dawn are over (those wayward mums nights out don’t count – we all need a release).  And with that, comes the opportunity to expand our date-night horizons and find experiences that make us feel feel joyful in the knowledge that life isn’t all nappies / school runs / Netflix / work deadlines and piles of washing.  Us parents have a whole world still to experience (well, staying in and around Queen’s Park is a tad more useful as the babysitter clock ticks on), and sometimes we just need to look a little harder to find it.

But on this occasion, we’ve found it for you – at the popular Queen’s Park Italian eatery Ida (pronounced Ee-da), with Cinema Ida – their take on a cinema / supper club.

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Ida

The concept is simple but effective.  Arrive to a glass of fizz, eat a delicious starter, watch a wonderful Italian film, feast on another two courses of heavenly Italian food whilst talking about the film you’ve just watched and wander home stuffed and culturally enlightened.

Now upon receiving the invitation to review Cinema Ida, I regret to say that I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of our anticipated (and much needed) date night starting at 5pm (can we really go ‘out out’ at that time!?), or to see an Italian film that made box office waves almost forty years ago… I’m sorry to say my inner philistine was unleashed.

But I needn’t have worried.  Simonetta and her husband Avi, the owners, chefs and overall essence of Ida knew what they were doing – we were safe in their capable hands.  Simonetta, also a novelist, told me the idea of combining their twin passions of food and cinema was “a way of showing Ida in another dimension – as a cultural venue”.  Six months since Cinema Ida’s conception, and it looks like they have done just that.

The ‘evening’ began at 4.45pm, which can fill parents of younger children with trepidation as they envisage the babysitter grappling unsuccessfully with the bath and bed routine, or it can fill parents with insurmountable joy as they skip out of the house – we decided to skip out and not look back.  

Upon entering the cosy, darkened art filled dining room, we were shown to our seats amongst the rows of bistro tables set up to face a large projector screen, and given a welcome glass of Prosecco.  

There was a general buzz in the air as our fellow diners appeared pleased to be out unabashedly sipping chilled bubbles at 5pm on a Sunday evening.

As we settled in, sharing plates of cured meats and flavourful juicy olives were brought to the table, alongside our individual starter plates of the rustic Sicilian dish Caponata con Crostone – consisting of aubergines, celery, tomatoes, red onions, raisins, pine nuts and basil, alongside a sourdough oilve oil and garlic crostone.  It was plentiful but delicate in its flavour – a perfect start to the evening.  

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Caponata con Crostone

Once finished, we ordered our carafe of wine and settled in to watch the critically acclaimed classic film – Cinema Paradiso.  If you haven’t seen it – YOU MUST!  

It is a story, primarily set in the 1950’s, of unlikely surrogate paternal love, the joy of mutual appreciation of film, the complex nature of discovering romantic love, and navigating the difficult relationships within existing families.  It is also a film about communities and how they are bound together through adversity and familiarity.  It brought laughs and tears in equal measures, it was an exquisite film, and I felt so lucky to have it brought to my attention.

The film ended and the lights went up.  I was an emotional wreck and anxious not to show my face, but I needn’t have worried as there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  My other half was also unsuccessful in trying to conceal his overflow of emotion whilst the lovely couple next to us proudly dabbed their faces through smiling tears.  We all suddenly had a lot to talk about.

Once we’d composed ourselves and had had ten minutes to talk through our favourite moments, we were served a main course of Tagliatelle all Norma – hand rolled tagliatelle, with a rich sauce named after the opera, “Norma”, consisting of aubergines, tomatoes and generous balls of ricotta salata.  The pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce bountiful. The accompanying fennel salad with oranges an black olives was a delightful side dish.  We knew the food was going to be good just by the nature of where we were but the plates were licked clean (kind of metaphorically, kind of not).

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Tagliatelle all Norma

Following on from our mains, and with just the right amount of time to digest and talk (to each other and our table neighbours), we were served a desert of Cassata al Forno, a home-made baked Sicilian ricotta and dark chocolate cassata (a type of Italian cheesecake).  It was elegant with the right balance of rich sweetness from the chocolate and tanginess from the ricotta.  In hindsight, we should have ordered a strong Italian coffee to go alongside it but we were on our second carafe of wine by then and in deep conversations with Simonetta and Avi who came to take a welcome break from the kitchen and join their guests for dessert – so all rationale went out the window.  

All in all, we had a wonderful evening, exceeding our expectations for a night of food and film.  Simonetta and Avi are marvellous hosts, with a clear passion for their restaurant and are masters at giving their guests an experience that feels special in their own unique and unpretentious way.  We can’t wait for our next visit.

Check the Ida website for details of upcoming Cinema Ida events.  Tickets are £45 p/p.

Ida
167 Fifth Avenue
Queen’s Park
London, W10 4AT
Tel.: 020 8969 9853

 

Thank you to Ida for allowing us come and review Cinema Ida.  For transparency, QPM’s received complimentary tickets for an honest review.

 

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