Updated: 17/01/2012 17:59 | By MSN Food contributor

Beyond popcorn: fine dining at the cinema

Fans of both film and food as well as those looking to seriously impress a first date will be taken by chef Rowley Leigh's latest project: The Lounge at ODEON Whiteleys in London…

Hamburger Royale from The Lounge at Whiteleys (© The Lounge at Whiteleys)

Forget sickly sugared popcorn and dry hot dogs. Visitors to The Lounge cinema at Whiteleys in London will be able to indulge in restaurant-quality versions of classic film foods, served in the comfort of their reclining leather seats. Dishes on offer include a hamburger 'royale' with fillet steak; red mullet risotto; squid and salsify fritters and gourmet popcorn, as well as ice-cream soda in flavours such as lemongrass.

"A couple will be able to see a film in first-class surroundings whilst enjoying a fantastic meal, with waiter service and a glass of wine, for £30 to £40 per head," says Leigh.

Salsify fritters with aioli from The Lounge at Whiteleys (© The Lounge at Whiteleys)

The Lounge's salsify fritters with aioli

Launching today after extensive renovations, ODEON Whiteleys retains four traditional cinema screens downstairs. Upstairs, The Lounge houses five intimate cinemas with just 50 seats each. Each seat has double the leg room of a normal cinema seat and its own call button, allowing you to order and enjoy Leigh's exclusive menu without missing a moment of your film. Stylish in-cinema tables incorporate a layer of rubber in their design, ensuring that the dishes are placed down soundlessly, and the black plates and super-silent staff minimise distractions.

Other services on offer in the exclusively over-18s cinema include an on-site concierge desk with a dedicated cinema booking and film selection service, and a private bar area.

Chef Rowley Leigh of The Lounge at Whiteleys (© The Lounge at Whiteleys)

Chef Rowley Leigh is consultant chef at The Lounge and cookery correspondant for the Financial Times.

Rowley Leigh founded Kensington Place Restaurant and has worked in some of the UK's most acclaimed kitchens, including Michel Roux's legendary Le Gavroche. But his boutique cinema concept is something different altogether.

"This is an exciting project in so many ways," he says. "By taking my food to the movies, I am just doing what I have sought to do all my professional life, which is to take gastronomy to an ever wider and younger audience."

Peak price tickets for The Lounge at Whiteleys are £18 for adults and £15 for senior citizens. Food and drinks are not included. Find out more at odeon.co.uk/thelounge.

What do you think about the idea of eating a meal in the cinema? Would you enjoy dining while watching the latest film or would you find it a distraction? Let us know in the comments section below...

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