REVIEW: Chambers (Immersive Dining Experience From Gingerline) ★★★★

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a Londoner is forever in pursuit of new experiences. One would be hard pressed to find a quirkier way to enjoy a five-course dinner in the capital. The fourth instalment of the rebranded “Chambers_” has amassed a keen following – the first month’s worth of preview tickets sold out within 48 hours. Sister companies Flavourology and Gingerline joined forces once again to lead their guests through an evening of edible delights in an interactive theatre setting – think of it as a culinary version of events along the lines of Secret Cinema. The plot is this: enter the multiverse by portals to map the different realities’ dining secrets.

Key to the experience is the childlike wonder at unexpected turns of the evening, exploring new dimensions of flavours and settings, so keeping mum is imperative; to a degree that it’s not only an encouraged rule of the organisers, but even becomes part of the plot. Thus, this review will remain purposefully vague. Just as the exact location of the event, which is a secret space near Hoxton station. Participants are messaged directions on the day (or the evening before, for matinees). The instructions were crystal clear but without them it would have been impossible to guess where the “Chambers_” HQ lies hidden!

The events’ FAQs are slightly disconcerting as they include the warning not to wear heels or skirts as crawling and sliding in narrow spaces might be involved. Upon entering, a staff member enquired not only about dietary requirements but also phobias. Gingerline’s motto is: Only the Brave will Dine. Encouraging this was not, but rest assured that even queasy me had a great time without any issues. Not to give too much away, after all a little tense nerve adds to some of the excitement, but no scary chase sequences, acrobatic feats or actors jumping out at guests were involved. Phew. In fact, staff are incredibly attentive and concerned about the wellbeing of their attendees throughout. The tone of the experience is less serious than its description sounds – the welcome at the bar is positively Douglas Adams-esque, leading up to episodes that feels like a) Doctor Who, b) Alice in Wonderland, c) Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, d) all of the above. The five courses are served within elaborate absurd settings, populated by a host of mischievous characters, portrayed by a handful of excellent performers.

“Chambers_” appeals to the astonishment of exploring new worlds, embracing the unknown and the spirit of improvisation: simply go along with whatever is thrown your way. It’s maybe not ideal for people who absolutely hate the idea of actors engaging with them, however it is up to visitors how much or how little they would like to be involved.

Tickets range from £55 to £75. They include 5 courses, a palate cleanser, a welcome drink all served up by sister company Flavourology, and 120 minutes of exploration. In reality, the time attendees can spend at “Chambers_” is much longer and more of an experience than this advertises: the first bar which is very much part of the whole spiel is accessible half an hour beforehand and the bar at the end is open until 11pm (for evening slots).

The food is interesting and on the better part of unusual – flavour combinations are inventive but without being unpalatable. Noone needs to be anxious about going home hungry either; by the time we reached the third course, I was reaching my limits. The cocktails at the bar come highly recommended, albeit sounding a little adventurous.

The event combines art, performance, food, drink and design; the make-belief transporting its dinner guests into imaginative alternative realities. The tickets are on the more expensive side of things but given the high-quality ingredients, effort put into the settings and the fact that it is for sure an unforgettable experience, it is worth a trip into the multiverse.

Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
Photo: Rob Greig
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