HOT: High Tea at the Movies, Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon St, Carlton

For three weekends my local cinema Cinema Nova are holding High Tea At The Movies – the more refined version of the multiplex Gold Class experience.

For $39 you get to sip tea, bubble or a Pimms cocktail and receive a box of treats while enjoying a new release film. I was invited to try their high tea during their screening of the French comedy The Chef.

First of all, this is not high tea of the quality that you’d expect from a grand hotel or tea salon. You do, after all, have to eat with food perched on your lap or on a tiny little side table by your cinema seat, so there’s only so much dainty presentation that’s possible. The cardboard box does feel a bit like a Qantas airline meal but aesthetics aside the food inside is actually quite good and certainly a step up from popcorn, chips and an icecream.

You receive two savoury nibbles (a smoked salmon crostini and chicken sandwich) but overwhelmingly the treats are sweet – a surprisingly good macaron, a run-of-the-mill chocolate chip biscuit, three miniature tartlets then your choice of a large tartlet with the same flavours.

My recommendation is the lemon meringue pie – I loved the neatly piped rows of meringue on the top – but avoid the strawberry tart which was filled with a very runny and messy custard.

Given the nature of the food it’s actually not advisable to eat during the film – so when they say 3pm for a 3:30pm screening I recommend arriving on time so you can relax with your food and drinks. Also there are no previews so you don’t want to be stumbling over people’s glasses or pots of tea and eating pastries in the dark while the action is happening on screen.

As for the film itself – let’s just say it was a frothy, rollicking comedy all about food, with lots of ridiculous plot twists and one instance of pretty cringe-worthy racial stereotyping. I think you’ll fare better with the other films coming up – this weekend High Tea At The Movies will be showing a period drama about the Danish royal family called A Royal Affair (not featuring Princess Mary) and the next weekend will be Where Do We Go Now, which recently won Best Picture at the Toronto Film Festival.

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