Food and a film - making a night of it
Supper and a show? Fill up after the film? A ready-made evening of entertainment might be more West End than north west England, but those wanting to make a night of it are well catered for in the Lakes.
Whether you're in Kendal, Keswick or one of the smaller Lakeland towns, there are some great options for combining the theatre or cinema with a meal at some excellent restaurants. Here's the LakesLux pick:
Whether you consider it a cinema with a restaurant or a restaurant with a cinema matters little - either way this Ambleside stalwart works brilliantly before taking in a movie before or after dinner.
There are actually three cinemas and two restaurants, both vegetarian with plenty of choice for the whole family. After booking, you just give your name at the cinema then after the movie head to the restaurant, where you only pay for everything after eating.
The Complete Evening Out deal at family Italian Zeffirellis includes a best-in-house reserved cinema seat for a movie showing at Zeffirellis, Zeffirellis on the Park or Fellinis and a two-course meal (main with starter or dessert) for £21.75 for adults, £15.25 for children (add £1.50 each if it's a 3D movie). The mushroom ravioli went down particularly well on our table.
Opt instead for the Early Bird Deal of pizza or pasta and an early show and the price drops to £15.75 for adults and £12.25 for children.
The Complete Evening Out deal at Fellinis restaurant for seats at any of the cinemas and a two-course dinner is £23.75 adults only (with the same 3D movie supplement).
The Moon, Kendal with Brewery Arts Centre
The Moon is a fabulous little restaurant on the edge of the town centre and just a short walk across the road from the cinema and arts centre. Leon Whitehead's modern food has the power to elevate an ordinary evening at the cinema into something special, and their pre-theatre two course supper for £14.95 is excellent value.
Available Tuesday-Friday from 5.30pm-6.45pm, four starters to choose from include potted smoke mackerel with radish salad or red pepper carpaccio with toasted quinoa salad and almonds.
For mains, my breaded plaice was a tasty plateful while Junior's aged beef burger with a similarly deep wedge of Cumbrian cheddar is enough to satisfy even the biggest appetite. The chicken escalope with fried egg or the confit duck leg will also keep the hunger pangs at bay during the movie.
The early opening of the restaurant is a real boon, coupled with attentive service and pleasant surroundings.
Alternative: if you're looking for a more casual alternative, the Reel Deal Cinema Offer at The Grainstore bistro at Brewery Arts is a popular local choice. Available Monday-Thursday from 5pm-8pm, you get a choice of pizza with your cinema ticket for £15 per person.
Lakeside Cafe with Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
With winter evening tickets for The Secret Garden - a charming production by the way - we weren't able to enjoy one of the best features of the cafe which is the views of Derwentwater and Cat Bells. Another appealing feature is its proximity to the theatre and car park - the switch to £1 night-time parking at the turn of 7pm makes for an eccentrically British congregation of theatre-goers by the pay machines after you've eaten.
The cafe itself is a lofty-ceilinged slate, timber and glass construction with a gigantic fireplace and chimney as a centrepiece. The furniture is definitely more daytime cafe than evening restaurant but theundefined table service is attentive and efficient.
Served from 5pm, one course is £14.95, two at £18.95 or three at £22.95. The choice is fairly limited - three starters including soup and three mains, one of which is veggie. The children's menu is a choice of main course with ice cream and a drink for £8.
A good tip is to order your interval drinks when you pay for dinner, and remember to book your table in advance as it does get popular.
Alternative: Morrels, on the right side of the town centre for the theatre, is a posher affair yet with a better value fixed price three course menu for £21.95. Dinner is served from 5.30pm.
There are other good places in Keswick but 6 o'clock dinner service just doesn't cut it if you want to avoid eating in a state of stress.