All aboard the mystery train for a surprise evening feast, away from your usual haunts and postcodes.
This is going to be one of the least informative reviews you will read on this site, mainly because we’ve been sworn to secrecy by Gingerline not to give much away so as not to ruin the surprise for future punters. It’s not an unreasonable request and, miraculously in this connected age, seems to be something generally adhered to by those who have already visited.
So what can we tell you? Well, as one of the more successful supper clubs they’ve forged their reputation over two and a bit years in various locations from small pop-ups to the larger, longer running affair at their ‘HQ’ of late.
The basic premise is you receive a text at 6pm on the day revealing the location, which can be anywhere on the length of the eponymous ‘Gingerline’ - the East London overground between Canonbury and Crystal Palace - and they don’t just stick to the trusted ‘hipster line’ bits in and around Shoreditch. You then hot-foot it over (or slow-foot it over and arrive late, if you chose to get there by a tortuous rush hour bus like we did) to the heavily customised venue and the fun begins - a four course meal with a free cocktail and a few other bits and pieces. I don’t think I’m ruining things too much to say we had a nice vodka shot.
Started by a group of friends, the accompanying booklet reads more like something you would get at a theatre or performance art show with credits for installations, set design and costume, except it also doubles up as the menu for the meal. It certainly feels like it inhabits the same kind of creative space as Secret Cinema Club, or the surprise factor vibe of You Me Bum Bum Train. And of course it has a lot in common with standard secret dining, which you don’t hear so much about after the initial frenzy a few years ago. The best elements of that scene - chatting to fellow diners on communal tables, random location - are present and correct here too.
You might think this a lot of this is smoke and mirrors to disguise an average meal, but the food is not just an afterthought. Everything we ate was good and they have tie-ins with quality booze merchants such as Sipsmith and Fever Tree tonic. At £50 not including any additional drinks (which are very reasonably priced at £14 for a bottle of wine), it’s not super cheap, but you do get more bang for your buck than you would down your local restaurant. Think of it like a mystery trip to a performance plus a meal all in a one-stop shop.
The danger is that the balance between the entertainment and letting you enjoy your meal can be off-kilter, but that didn’t feel the case here. This is why I don’t especially like the idea of Secret Cinema Club - I prefer to watch a film in darkness with as few people to distract me as possible, not to be forced to dress up and run around with splurge guns. But I have a more relaxed and open attitude to dining, and enjoyed Gingerline accordingly. If anything, we wished for a bit more to be layed on with the entertainment side - comme tu veux!
Previous incarnations have seen diners in a submarine mess hall and a Siberian circus, and most recently an illicit casino, so you ought not be able to second guess what you’re in for.
The other thing I must tell you is that it finishes the run at its current location at the end of March, so get your skates on for the last few spaces if you want to check it out.
Review score: 8/10
Words by AIL Reviewer Matthew B
See more reviews by Matthew B
For more info visit: http://www.gingerline.info/index.html
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