We started the Easter holidays by going out for lunch followed by the cinema with a group of B’s friends. It was very convenient that Disney’s Cinderella opened at the start of the school holidays; perfect for a group of six years old girls.
The major cinemas near us are in Oxford, Reading and Didcot. We chose Didcot mainly because it is easy to park close to the cinema (I also lived there for ten years so have a preference in that direction). The second decision was where to eat. There are several choices in Didcot, but we felt the options were limited as a group of ten including five children. We chose Prezzo because it is next door to the cinema, is child friendly and everyone in the group was happy to eat Italian.
Lunch at Prezzo
I’ve eaten at Prezzo several times and always had good food. This time was no exception, my Pollo carbonara was very enjoyable (see photograph below) and was a big enough portion I couldn’t finish it despite trying very hard. Everyone enjoyed their food and I think we covered most sections of the menu with pizza, pasta and seafood. I’d hoped B would choose pizza so I could eat the left overs but unfortunately for me she chose pasta, and she didn’t even leave any of her garlic bread starter.
The girls all enjoyed completing the activities on their menu, but the greatest excitement was going to the toilet! Maybe it was the toilet, but I suspect it was more to do with the glass spiral staircase they had to walk up and down.
Unfortunately the whole experience was not as good. I admit the first issue was my own fault, as I’d got a voucher for 25% off everyday at Prezzo, but I’d missed the small print saying it was not valid on Saturdays; surely it is not valid everyday then? I noticed this just before I left home so there was no confrontation in the restaurant but I felt frustrated about it. Somehow two main meals were missed; this was rectified very quickly, but my daughter was upset thinking she was not going to get food at the same time as her friends. The main problem was the slow service. It was so slow we had to leave without the children having the included icecream so we could make it to the cinema on time (thank goodness it was next door). I admit we didn’t explain we were going to the cinema but we thought 1 hour and 45 minutes was plenty of time in a restaurant that was not full. Fortunately the staff were understanding about the situation and suggested we went back after the film so the girls could have their icecream
Thankfully the cinema part of the day was very smooth. We’d prebooked our tickets including numbered seats so it was easy to split into smaller groups and meet up, including meeting the additional members of the party who couldn’t make the meal. I’m sure numbered seats are new since the last time I went to this cinema to see Frozen (yes there is a theme in what I go to see). There was a delay as I bought popcorn caused by a couple of slow customers at the front of the queue. In the end I was invited to an extra position where the manager did a very friendly job of convincing me to increase my popcorn size from small to medium.
The seating has a good incline so visibility is good, but there were still lots of boosters for children to help them see over the person in front. I went back for an additional booster and got one of the last ones, but noticed there were still lots available on an additional rack outside one of the other screens. Normally I think the high back chairs are a good thing, but I discovered it isn’t when I’m not sat next to B. She gets emotionally involved in what she’s watching, whether it is theatre, television or film so got upset at the sad section of the film and I couldn’t do more than reach over the chair and pat her on the head. Fortunately she was comforted by her friend sat next to her.
Overall it was a successful treat for the girls and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. From a parent’s perspective the meal was not perfect, but it did not ruin the day. We are likely to go to the cinema in Didcot again and will probably go to Prezzo as we enjoyed the food, but I will let them know we need to leave by a specific time. In fact, there is a possibility that we’ll go again soon as several Mum’s said they’d like to watch Cinderella again (and I’m trying to get some enthusiasm going to see Pitch Perfect 2).