Kino Teatr, St Leonard’s – a great night out

We decided that this, our first full-length night out since my operation, was our belated wedding anniversary outing. We very much enjoyed a meal plus a film at the new Kino Teatr in  Norman Road, St. Leonard’s, and Battleaxe totally recommends this place!

     The cinema is part of the Baker Mamonova Gallery, which we have visited on many occasions to view their displays of wonderful Russian art. They used to have great Soviet-era pictures of workers in factories, shipyards etc., but I suspect the supply of those is running out. Now, there are still some industrial scenes but also many of rural peasantry and more abstract landscape scenes.

      Last time we visited, Michala’s Cute Cakes still occupied the cafe part, but that has now moved down to the bottom of London Road. Battleaxe loves those cakes, but am not quite sure I could face them as yet. Back then, I was also entertained by the strange loo, which was decorated with a stag’s head and a pair of antique skis. All that is gone – loos are now brand new.
      Dating from 1913, the cinema was the first
purpose-built establishment in the town. It closed in 1977, and the premises were used as a builder’s merchants before being taken over by the gallery.  The auditorium, nicely restored, still has its original domed roof, with attractive distressed plasterwork.
      We booked ourselves in for a meal and film deal. I wonder where they got this lovely old box-office?

       The cafe is now called the Kitchen, and serves meals all day. The evening ambience is very atmospheric and romantic, lots of candles, nice table settings, music not too loud. It wasn’t packed, but respectably full – you could go in there for drinks/nibbles and not eat if you wanted.  The menu was relatively small, but varied. Middle Eastern/international with decided Russian overtones, if that makes any sense.  Prices perfectly OK.

Baker Mamonova Kitchen – nice evening atmosphere

       I started with appropriately Russian borscht, and Philosopher had baba ganoush with flat bread.  The soup was very flavoursome but, if I am going to quibble, was quite difficult to eat because of too much beetroot left in large slices.  I think the beetroot should be diced up small.
       Next, seared venison, with wilted-kale-type greens and little pots of creamy/cheesy potatoes. The meat was absolutely delicious, cooked perfectly, and the potatoes were good, but the greens were maybe a little chewily robust. Also, the venison seemed to take quite a long time to get seared….
       All in all, though, the meal was good, and very nicely presented – felt a bit special.
       We didn’t bother with anything else, although they have a sweet menu including sorbet with flavoured vodka.  We had a look at the art, and then settled ourselves in two leather armchairs in the auditorium.
       It is a good size – seats 100 people – but small enough to be intimate, with a bar and various armachair/sofa seating options as well as good-size cinema seats. Clearly, there has been a lot of investment in this project, and it has a definite cool, art-house cinema feel.  Again, it was full enough, but not packed.

Kino Teatr – auditorium and bar

       The film was the Danish ‘Babette’s Feast’, made in 1987, which neither of us had ever seen.
       What a beautiful film. Very simple plot about two sisters who live in a remote village in Jutland, Denmark, and although both have chances with love, they choose to stay with their father, who runs a strict religious sect. Most of the action takes place when the sisters, and the surviving members of the dwindling congregation, are old. Their French servant, Babette, decides to cook a magnificent French feast to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of the Pastor’s birth. It is beautifully and sensitively made, well acted, alternately funny and poignantly sad. We both enjoyed it very much.

Babette’s Feast

        So, in conclusion, a great venue, a great meal and a lovely film. What more could you want?
We will definitely go again! 

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