Somewhere in London
By Hannah Nepil
Finally we arrived. I can’t tell you where. I can’t tell you how. And I can’t tell you what happened when we got there. So writing about it might seem pointless. Except that, when it comes to Gingerline – our hosts for the evening– mystery is the point.
Founded in 2010, this pop-up company aims to take dining to a psychedelic new level, by taking guests on a theatrical journey, which happens to include Gourmet-style food. Participants only discover the location one hour beforehand, and have no idea what they will see, hear or eat until they arrive. Once out, they are sworn to secrecy. That is, until Gingerline releases its next big project. So, by now, I can confirm that past menus have embraced everything from ’ginger beer beef’ to ‘smouldering hay’. I can reveal that the overall aesthetic, realised in exquisite detail by founders Suz Montfort and Kerry Adamson, channels the surrealism of a Roald Dahl or Lewis Carroll. And I can tell you that past ‘realities’ have included a Siberian circus back in 2011, a Submarine Mess Hall and a woodland setting in 2012, where guests were led through mushroom caves, traded secrets with Rumpelstiltskin and were serenaded by the moon – all as part of a multi-course banquet.
Let that, then, give you some idea about ‘Chamber of Secrets’, Gingerline’s latest offering. This is dining at its most immersive, thanks to Gingerline’s gift for matching each course, each flavour even, to the guests’ surroundings. It genuinely feels like entering a parallel reality. What’s more, the food is delicious; you’ll come home full and happy – a refreshing change from those theatrical-dining hybrids (and there are a few nowadays) that fob guests off with half-baked canapés. Admittedly, the narrative is somewhat flimsy. The acting, pure panto. The extra drinks, served up in a striking Victorian steam-punk bar area, come far from cheap. But it’s all delivered with such charm and good humour, such attention to every sensuous detail, that you’d have to be a bit of a Scrooge not to enter into the boisterous spirit.