If they'd bothered to ask, they'd have got a simple answer: cinemas are depressing places for a night out. The independents have long supplemented their income with attractive bars where an adult could do something to fill in time other than lurking on a sticky carpet with a sticky drink, but the chains always neglected this area. A dirnk in a cinema is more punishment than pleasure.
And this in potentially splendid surroundings. The Virgin Fulham Road is a beautiful building, long shrouded in grime and plastic. And its first- floor Circle Bar has always been a gem waiting to be turned from raddled old hag to Virgin princess. Finally it's happened, and what used to be a gloomy spot has become a delightful place. It's amazing how a room can change: strip the deco panelling and paint it up in hot pinks and yellows, replace the benches with circular tables and stools, sling some ovoid mirrors on the walls and Dick's your uncle.
The Fulham Road, colonised at this particular stretch mainly by cattle- markets where Sloane rangers think themselves daring by picking up other Sloanes, finally boasts a civilised meeting place And, though you don't need to show a ticket to reach it and a round of drinks for three still brings change from a fiver, it's still deliciously empty, partly because, joy of joys, they haven't a children's licence and partly because no-one's caught on yet. But don't expect this state of affairs to last.
Circle Bar, Virgin Fulham Rd, 142 Fulham Rd SW10 0171-370 2110Reuse content