How do you push the boundaries for foodie adventurers who have been there and ate that? You put on a dining escapade held in a secret location along the East London Line (or ‘ginger line’, as they call it). Our food writer, Syeshia Sweeney, recently went along to the pioneers of underground dining, Gingerline’s, latest rendezvous.
Right, how do I tell you about a company that literally asks you to agree to keep their details a secret? Let’s give it a go!
There are other immersive theatre companies such as Punchdrunk and other immersive restaurants, like Dans le Noir but most of the concepts that come to London are of a one-off pop-up nature, Gingerline however keeps coming back bigger and better. The special thing about these types of events/experiences is that you are kindly asked to put your phone well away, photography is strictly prohibited which sounds difficult at first but it really encourages you to engage with everyone and everything. You’re so concerned with seeing, hearing, eating and doing that you’re not worried about selfies or the perfect angle for your Instagram post of your entree. If your mate is as open-minded as you are, you’ll have the most fun and you’ll forget all about the WhatsApp group banter for a couple of hours, at least. You could even brave it on your own, it’s such a friendly vibe.
My first Gingerline experience was the “Classic” which is the full dining/supper club experience which takes place in one sitting/one room. I waited by a station on the ‘gingerline’ overground and met a friend at a mystery location in East London before we were ushered into the building. It was an up-close full-blown musical production with a five-course meal and you were constantly entertained; the performers were always in character. I must say, it was barking mad but completely unforgettable.
I had heard great things about the Gingerline Chambers of Flavour and with my interest in Contemporary Theatre and a couple of years being a food writer in the bag, I thought it sounded exciting. I was bringing a friend who had never been to anything like this and the fact there was a costume/dress code, a very subtle one to be fair but it still made her slightly on edge which in turn made me concerned that it might be too quirky for her. We needn’t have worried, only one person hasn’t participated in the costume and it actually had no real bearing on the experience other than to have a theme and be united in our odd items. And as for the experience, she loved it as much as me, if not more!
There is a clear but loose plot threaded throughout (it’s not Chekhov and you don’t want it to be). It’s a multi-dimensional machine/journey and it’s like you are transported into another world, travelling from room to room with a specific theme and a unique dish in each. The dining element and the performance element is a combined experience and a shared experience too. Unlike the theatre, there’s no chance of getting a restricted view seat and missing out on some of the action, you are centre stage! Expect to be surprised and to laugh out loud and if you’re up for it, you can even take a portable drink on your journey. Genius!
Gingerline ask their alumni to fill out a feedback form and I had to admit, I felt like I was welcomed from the moment I walked in (when I finally found it!) everyone was really friendly and actors interacted with us before we had officially embarked on the journey. I was impressed with the set and with the wicked sense of humour everyone seemed to share, it wasn’t long before we had jokes specific to our group and our “team leader” that continued to have us cracking up. I regretted going there hungry because the first couple of courses were really small but light, fresh and pleasant. I remember being anxious after having a couple of cold dishes and hoping there would be a hot main course and to my sheer delight – there was and it was right on time! It was a proper home-cooked meal and just what I needed at that moment with dessert in the final section. Following each section, we were given little menu cards so we knew what we had eaten. In addition, I felt my dietary requirements and others such as vegetarians were well catered to and drinks were great (the ones we purchased that is, the free one wasn’t to our taste at all). The only factor that seems to put friends off from booking is the price tag! Gingerline say their price is a bargain (perhaps they have different bills to ours) but honestly, this price is not out of place with events of this nature.
Although a little on the pricey side, I felt like I could see where my money was invested and I would definitely return for more of the same. Whatever that may be! Don’t expect me to tell you all the juicy details, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Tickets for the next event go on sale Tuesday 28 Feb at midday for 13 June onwards and are priced from £55 – £70 depending on your time slot. Sign up to the mailing list now and be ready with your contact info/dietary/mobility requirements.
The experience lasts approximately two hours, that doesn’t include the time you may need to find the venue! Oh and it’s very important that you wear flat shoes, thank me later.
Find out more: www.chambersofflavour.co.uk