REVIEW: SPEAKEASY CINEMA @ TYNESIDE BAR CAFÉ, NEWCASTLE (27.04.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s always a worry for a reviewer that your name won’t be ‘on the list’, but the Tyneside Bar Café’s new Speakeasy Cinema event had another hurdle to jump: a password. It’s a cute touch – one of many – which adds to the speakeasy theme, only I didn’t have it. Taking pity on me, the host whispered it sotto voce and we were in, welcomed by softly playing jazz and candle-lit tables.

The Speakeasy Cinema event offers intrepid diners an evening of surprises; Chef Tom Adlam has prepared a meal which will match the film, but we’re still none the wiser about what we’ll be watching. ‘Le Menu’ on the tables offer a clue, with Cocktail Rose et Truffe Popcorn – a pungent cocktail and equally as powerful truffle popcorn – set down in front of us before the film began.

I’ll admit that I was a little concerned about watching a feature film in the Bar Café, worried about the noise travelling through from the bar behind us, but the plush red velvet curtains drawn around us offer ample sound proofing, and the excellent sound system focused the soundtrack directly to the audience; before long, I forgot I was in a busy bar.

The host explained how the evening worked – when the food would be brought round, how to order drinks (via a little pad on your table, which the waiters would keep an eye on) – and the film began: Woody Allen’s delightful comedy, Midnight In Paris.

Entirely in keeping with the night’s theme, frustrated screenwriter Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), visiting the French capital with his fiancé (Rachel McAdams), is magically transported to 1920s Paris during his frequent night-time strolls of the city. It’s a smart and sophisticated comedy, as you’d expect from Woody Allen, and as Gil meets his literary and musical heroes – a surly and wordy Ernest Hemmingway, played superbly by Corey Stoll; a jovial and seemingly perpetually drunk F Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) along with a cast of painters, artists and musicians from Picasso and Dali to Cole Porter and Man Ray – he begins to fall in love with the charming Adriana. Returning to the present during the day, Gil is increasingly frustrated with his modern life, as his fiancé picks out awful furniture for their Malibu beach house, not to mention warming to the odious attentions of her friend Paul (Michael Sheen), while Gil dreams of moving to Paris and writing his novel. Themes of nostalgia flood the senses; from the famous monuments the couple visit, to the raucous parties Gil attends as he’s transported back to a golden age, it’s impossible not to want to jump on a plane to gay Paris as soon as the film finishes.

While I’m easily drawn into the plot, the other part of the evening – the food – is unobtrusively served. In keeping with the venue’s usual style, the food is excellent and unfussy, with simple recipes done well. The Croque Monsieur main course is tangy and creamy in all the right places, and the coffee and chewy macarons served towards the end of the film were a welcome sweet touch.

By the time the movie ended and the house lights raised, I felt I’d been thoroughly (and appropriately) whisked away to another time entirely. A lovely concept, Speakeasy Cinema offers a fine opportunity to pair food with film in comfortable surroundings and in a pleasingly social way. I’ll be back.




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