There are some brilliant movies coming up this summer. I've already reviewed The Secret Life of Pets, and there's also Swallows and Amazons and the BFG due out soon, as well as Ice Age Collision Course. We were lucky enough to be invited this weekend as guests of Pizza Express to celebrate their collaboration with the film. They have brand new kid's activity sheets featuring puzzles, colouring and quizzes from the movie, and a fabulous chance to win a trip to Hollywood just by sending in your drawing of your favourite pizza and Ice Age character. The closing date is the 5th September, so you could take the sheet home with you and spend lots of time working on your perfect entry over the holidays.
The main prize is for a family of 4 to travel to Hollywood, with flights, accommodation, car hire and a trip to Fox Studios. There's also 5 runners up prizes of Ice Age goody bags and vouchers for pizza making parties for up to 12 people, and 50 runner up prizes of an Ice Age plush toy and £30 Pizza Express voucher.
It would make such a fun school holiday treat to see the movie and then dine at Pizza Express, especially on a rainy day - or dare I say it, on a scorching one when you're looking for some air conditioned refuge. With the kids' Piccolo menu at just £6.95 for 3 courses, it won't break the bank either.
We were invited to the Dean Street restaurant, in the heart of bustling Soho, and famous for its jazz nights. It was a glorious sunny Saturday and the streets were buzzing with people. As we stepped into the restaurant we were greeted by cheerful staff who took us to our table.
It was great to be able to try out some of the new summer specials, and the Watermelon Chiller with its blend of pink melon, strawberries and mint went down an absolute treat in the warmth. My partner enjoyed a cooling Passionfruit Lemonade, another new addition this summer.
Ruby and her friend went for Appletizer, a treat to have a fizzy drink! We soon got to order our food, again relieved that Pizza Express cater so well for allergies and knowing there's always a great selection for gluten-free diners. Ruby had gluten free doughballs with a side salad of crudités and her friend had the regular doughballs. Ladling on lashings of butter, they both declared that Pizza Express butter is the best in the world!
Between courses they had a chance to fill in their activity sheets and plenty of colouring pencils were delivered to the table in their trademark tomato tins. The girls were super excited to see the film, and spent the time getting re-acquainted with the movie characters.
For starters I ordered a refreshing tomato and mozzarella salad drizzled with vibrant basil pesto and my other half ordered the antipasto platter which they kindly brought out with some gluten-free bread. It's lovely to eat somewhere where you don't feel like you're being a pain ordering special food.
They always get the balance just right making it child-friendly but not gimmicky, and somewhere grown-ups want to visit and eat. It's relaxed so you don't need to worry if your child isn't on their best behaviour, but most of all I love that they offer something different to the usual beige, fried food you find on most kids menus.
For mains the girls went for the Margharita pizza from the Piccolo menu, I picked my usual Padana pizza (loaded with goat's cheese, tangy onion marmalade and spinach) and the old man went for the new pizza the Barbarcoa, a meaty feast with smoked pulled beef and spicy chipotle salsa topped with coriander. He really enjoyed the flavour of the new pizza although felt there was 'a bit too much raw salad on top'. Perhaps it could have done with being more finely chopped? All the food was delicious, as it always is at Pizza Express. We know whatever town we visit, we can always rely on a Pizza Express branch to deliver great tasting food, safe in the knowledge we can dine gluten-free.
For dessert, one girl chose ice cream, the other a gluten-free brownie and the grown-ups shared some salted caramel ice cream which is to die for - well, when I say share...one of us got a fair bit more than the other!
After packing up the activity sheets so we could take them home and complete our competition entries, we headed round the corner to Twentieth Century Fox's London HQ. We were eagerly greeted by Sid and Scrat who were happy to give us a hug!
With excitement building, we headed to the private cinema inside to settle down for the movie. Somehow the kids managed to find a bit more room to squeeze some popcorn in!
Ice Age Collsion Course is the 5th Ice Age movie, but don't worry if you're not familiar with the previous ones, the film works really well in it's own right and you don't have to have seen the others. It has a great voice cast including Queen Latifa, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg and Jesse J. It's an action-packed adventure starting with Scrat the squirrel inadvertently diverting a space-ship and setting it off on a catastrophic course into the solar system, crashing with planets and causing an asteroid shower, which head towards earth spelling disaster.
Down on earth, Manny the mammoth is distressed about his daughter's Peaches upcoming wedding to Julien and there are some touching moments exploring growing up, and letting go as a parent.
There's lots of laughs throughout for both adults and children and it's a light-hearted, fun movie, with of course, a happy ending!
A meal at Pizza Express and the Ice Age movie are a perfect combination so make sure you fit it in over the school holidays, and don't forget to enter the amazing competition too.
Disclosure: We were invited as guests of Pizza Express to dine and see the movie. Many thanks to Ruth and Katy for organising.