To spend 2 or 3 hours in one restaurant it has to be good. To spend the entire Friday evening at M.A.D.E.@No.18 it has to be exceptional and something different.
It was early on a Friday evening that our taxi delivered us to M.A.D.E. @ No 18; a café-bistro at the top of the old market place in Alfreton. It has a unique style that is reminiscent of the fashionable bistros of the mid 1970s. It’s the place to enjoy scrumptious freshly made breakfasts, lunch with both traditional and Mediterranean dishes or afternoon tea. You can eat in the fully licensed cafe-bistro with its eclectic décor or dine alfresco on the terrace amid a cottage style garden.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, there’s a new venture to accompany their bistro style menu. We arrived at 6.30 in the evening to enjoy the bistro’s tapas and ‘take in a movie’.
The interior of the bistro is deceptively spacious. We introduced ourselves to David, the owner, who showed us to a corner table where we could take in the atmosphere and study the tapas offerings. We nibbled on appetisers of olive oil, diced tomato and aioli on crispy toast while we lingered over our first glass of wine.
Susan and myself chose 3 dishes each that we could share. They arrived in earthenware pots on 2 wooden platters. This is the sort of spread that you want to linger over.
There was a dish of sliced, spicy Chorizo and cherry tomatoes in a honey and red wine dressing. This is a dish to be nibbled between sips of wine. Susan had ordered the calamari: 2 pieces of soft and succulent squid, dusted with flour and lightly grilled which was served with a Jerusalem artichoke purée.
I’d selected the gambas al ajillo: seared prawns in a mild chilli and garlic oil. Full of flavour and very indulgent. Another of my selections was the albonbigas: meatballs in a smokey paprika based tomato sauce.
A joint choice was the traditional Spanish dish of patatas bravas: potatoes served with a spicy sauce of tomato and mild chilli. Finally, every tapas has to have tortilla Espanola: a slice of a Spanish omelette. This generous portion was light and packed with the flavours of garlic, onion, potato and peppers.
David was busy all evening; chatting to customers, dispensing wine and taking bookings for M.A.D.E. @ No 18’s very popular, mid-morning breakfast.
There’s something magical about going to the cinema. The thought of enjoying a beautifully crafted piece of entertainment, surrounded by a few like-minded people, uninterrupted; all there and of one mind to enjoy the evening.
As 8 o’clock approached we made our way, along with some of the other diners, to the ‘cinema’. With only 30 or so seats, split into 6 rows, the cinema isn’t large but the screen fills the end of the room and so occupies almost your entire field of vision. We settled in to our seats, re-claimed theatre seats from a London venue, with our popcorn and a bottle of chilled sauvignon blanc. There’s a lot of legroom between the rows; we had room for a narrow table to put our glasses on.
This evening the film was Widows; a popcorn heist flick with a feminist soul. The original story was written by Lynda la Plante and serialised, many years ago, on ITV. Although the action in this up to date American version, has moved from London to Chicago director Steve McQueen has retained the original story’s concept of powerful female lead characters.
There has been a screening of a diverse selection of films from a matinee showing of Mary Poppins Returns, aimed at a younger audience, to an early evening James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and one of my favourite’s: the original Blade Runner, The Director’s Cut; another Friday evening treat; all parceled up and delivered in one place.
It was 10.30 before we climbed back into our taxi. We’d enjoyed a memorable 4 hours of fabulous food, hospitality and entertainment.