Is it a cinema, a café, a bar or a restaurant? All of them together. The Picturehouse Central is a brand-new movie-watching experience, an oasis of tranquility amidst the Piccadilly chaos.
Recalling the glamour and opulence of the original Leicester Square Trocadero in the early 1900s, Picturehouse Central is the latest addition to the Picturehouse group in the heart of London’s West End.
Sure, you will have to endure a painful zig-zag amongst clueless tourists for a couple of minutes before you reach the building, but it will be worth the wait. Described by the organisers as a “cathedral of cinema”, the Picturehouse Central shows everything from blockbusters to experimental films and documentaries.
Built in 1896, the now Picturehouse Central was once home to grand Edwardian catering establishments Lyons Corner House Restaurant and Scott’s. With sumptuous and extravagant interiors, both were London’s premier restaurants until the 1960s, when Lyons closed and Scott’s relocated to a new site.
Picturehouse Central revives this historic structure; the architecture and interiors echo the aesthetics of art-house cinema, Hollywood glamour and modern industrial chic, in an endeavour to capture the past glory of this grand building.
Outside, visitors can get in through a rejuvenated colonnade skirting the west of the building, lit by classic cinema-style lamps, to reach a dedicated feature entrance that re-establishes the building as part of the bustling streetscape on Shaftesbury Avenue – ready for red-carpet transformation into a unique and glamorous venue for premieres and film festivals.
Inside, the cinema ranges across five buildings. A grand oak-clad staircase with red tile treads leads up from the foyer to the first floor, where guests are greeted by vintage-style ticketing kiosks and a spectacular bar. Here, exposed brick walls and painted steel girders add to the industrial aesthetic, and informal seating areas invite guests to enjoy the views out onto Shaftesbury Avenue from restored picture windows.
The Members’ Bar on the top floor boasts the addition of a new and spectacular roof terrace, offering panoramic vistas across London to the Houses Of Parliament and Piccadilly Circus below, unseen for decades.
The menus nod to London’s melting pot of food cultures. Downstairs you can enjoy delicious sandwiches made with artisan breads, mouthwatering salads, handmade pastries and cakes; upstairs you’ll be spoilt for choice among classic USA ‘dude food’, Middle East flatbreads and Far East bowl food. The London Fields Brewery beer bottled exclusively for the cinema’s opening and the bar’s wide range of drinks make the Picturehouse Central’s bar and restaurant a perfect late-evening spot.
And the food is indeed what makes The Picturehouse Central the place to be: offering everything from arancini to burgers and fries, from Crosstown Doughnuts to hummus, courgette, dried tomatoes and harissa flatbread, eating before or after a movie has never been this good. Enjoy!
Pictures: Carolina Are