An aquatic dinner in an underwater mess hall. An intergalactic trip to an unexplored planet. A secret tunnel into a fairytale forest. These are the kinds of bonkers experiences that interactive supper club Gingerline has dreamed up over the years, popping up at secret venues along the length of the former East London line, now Overground (orange on the tube map, hence ‘Gingerline’, geddit?).
Now, after eight years of playing with food, Gingerline is back with its biggest adventure yet – aptly named ‘The Grand Expedition’. This time, the founders are straying off the Overground to a huge, top-secret location on the Victoria line for a new edible journey which they describe as a ‘floating, feeding, falling dream’.
While that might sound a bit like what happens when you accidentally take too much Night Nurse, the organisers say it actually means diners are going to be taken on a journey around the world with five interactive courses of food paired with wacky performances. More fancifully, it’s ‘part dance spectacle, part multimedia simulation, part poetical dreamscape.’
Is that a flowery and ambiguous description? Yes. But that’s the point. Each new Gingerline show is shrouded in mystery – you have to leave phones at the door and there’s a strict ‘no spoilers’ policy to keep it all a total secret.
One of the pioneers of ‘immersive dining’, Gingerline has been taking adventurous eaters on clandestine dining escapades since 2010. Foodie founders Suz Mountfort and Kerry Adamson started out teaming up with creative pals to host dinner parties with added entertainment. (And we’re not talking someone plonking away at the piano during dinner.) ‘People want more from their nights out,’ says Suz, ‘with food becoming just one part of the overall experience. It’s no longer about grabbing a quick bite to eat – we’re overloaded with places where we can do that.’
The themed nights were always a total surprise – and the founders soon discovered that Londoners had a real appetite for them. People would happily book a place not knowing where they’d be going, what they’d be eating or what the heck they would encounter en route. All they could be sure of was that, a) it would be a whole lot more exciting than a burger and a pint down the pub and, b) they’d get a feast of tasty food, which wouldn’t necessarily arrive on plates – at one Gingerline dinner, guests received a course served in footwear. ‘Our guests trust us to give them a fabulous night,’ says Suz. ‘And we trust them to keep the details secret, so that future guests can enjoy it as much as they did.’
The nomadic dinners have always been fever-dream outrageous, and have grown in size, scale and general weirdness over the years. Past suppers have seen diners join a secret cult, spin the wheel of fortune in a glitzy casino, navigate a labyrinth to get to a puppeteer’s workshop and have edible inoculations before taking an intergalactic trip to ‘Planet Gingerline’. In 2015, as if one bizarre alternate world wasn’t enough, they created the ‘Chambers of Flavour’, where guests entered an interdimensional time machine, which took them to five different realities, each dishing up a different course.
As ‘The Grand Expedition’ prepares to pull out of the station, our advice is just to have faith and hop on board. Returning Gingerliners won’t be disappointed: from the little the organisers are willing to divulge, this one looks to be full of new, unexpected twists. If you’re a newbie, you’re in for a real treat. All you need is an appetite for food and adventure, and a willingness to be fully ‘immersed’. Just don’t be alarmed if your soup arrives in a shoe.
If you can’t wait until ‘The Grand Expedition’, there’s an exclusive preview at our Time Out 50 birthday shindig for 120 lucky tickets holders who buy a £10 bolt-on. Trust us: it will be spectacular. Bag a spot here.
‘The Grand Exhibition’ runs every Tue and Sat from Nov 6. Tickets are on sale now, from £55.