Food

Unusual dining experiences in London you need to try

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published

There are just too many fabulously unusual and immersive dining experiences in London for you to stay at home. Take a look at some of the best that are happening in the city right now. 

Esteemed designer, feminist, and badass Londoner, Vivienne Westwood, once said, “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” And if it was the city’s dining scene that she was talking about, we would have to agree with her.

Of course, this colourful, bustling, ever-changing metropolis is bursting with unique people and places that could entertain you for years. But arguably, at the centre of the bright lights is the capital’s expansive food offering.

They say the kitchen is at the heart of the home and, for many Londoners’, exploring and socialising in the city they call home is best done by going for dinner. It’s easy to see why; every week there’s a new pop-up food market, immersive dining experience, supper club or concept restaurant opening. 

With so many unusual dining experiences in London to try, we’ve selected our favourites for every one of you keen to take this crazy city for all it’s got. We dare you to try just as much as your diary (and bank balance) will let you.

From cabaret dinners to gospel choir brunches, this round-up is unusual and immersive dining at its best. Enjoy!

Sketch 

The Gallery at Sketch

If you’ve got a pal visiting from out of town and you’re looking to impress, Sketch is the place to take ‘em. This café, restaurant, bar and afternoon tea venue is…almost indescribable in its uniqueness. Nestled on a side street just back from the handsome, creamy buildings of Regent Street, this unassuming townhouse’s façade gives nothing away on first appearances.

Stepping inside is like falling down the rabbit hole. Push aside a thick velvet curtain and you’ll see the outline of a hopscotch on the floor (feel free to practise your playground skills), neon signs interspersed with avant-garde artworks on the walls and utterly over-the-top décor and furniture. There are three main rooms (and an extra, secret one only available on special request), each serving up different menus in a themed setting.

You can gorge on pastries and tea in the Glade room, which is carpeted with a dense, moss-like fabric to replicate the feeling of adventuring into woodland, with walls covered in swirling, green, botanical patterns. Or, in the completely millennial pink Gallery, be treated to an afternoon tea featuring caviar and quails eggs and served in ‘drink me’ cups. That’s all we’re giving away for now, you’ll just have to explore it for yourself to know more…

Make a reservation here

Sunday Swing at The Ned 

Get your dancing shoes on…

With seven bustling restaurants, towering pillars of marble, fabulous décor and a live band hoisted above diners’ heads, the Soho House group well and truly exceeded expectations when restoring this redundant bank to its former glory.

But what’s already considered a wonderfully special venue has upped the ante by creating an immersive experience in the form of Sunday Swing. Running from seven until 10pm every Sunday, these completely free-to-attend events are a divine collaboration of charm, ambiance and impeccable live music - and they couldn’t have a better setting than this historic building.

Enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants and watch on as couples take to the floor, dancing along to the soulful sounds of The London Dance Orchestra. Directed by Robin Harris, you can listen to all the best sounds from the 1930s to the 1950s, including jazz, jive and Lindy hop.

Dress up in your best vintage outfit, dust off your brogues and prepare to immerse yourself in the entertainment. Whether you want to dance, learn new moves, watch or just enjoy the music while dining, the evening will have you swinging in to the week ahead.

Make a reservation here

Mare Street Market 

Feast next to this gorgeous florist at Mare Street Market 

If you like your brunch, lunch and dinner served up in an achingly cool industrial space curated by some of Hackney’s coolest creatives, Mare Street Market will undoubtedly be a hit.

What was an old, “drab” job centre - as founder, producer and pub owner Marc Francis-Baum describes it - has been completely reinvented as a meeting of creativity, food and commerce all under one roof.

The market is open every day from 8am ‘til late’. This means locals can pop in for an artisan coffee on their way to work, browse the Pinterest-worthy florist and shop for vinyl records as well as enjoying pizzas, rotisserie chicken, straw fries and cocktails when the sun goes down (or before, depending how you roll).

See more information here

Gospel Brunch at Red Rooster

The Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch plays host to restaurant Red Rooster; a fusion of American cuisine, Southern soul food and the diverse culinary traditions of New York – and don’t take that last point lightly. Its head chef, the acclaimed restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, was keen to bring the Harlem spirit of his original restaurant to London, which included roping in a whole gospel choir to serenade diners every Sunday.

East London’s House Gospel Choir perform every single Sunday at 12.15pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, giving all those brunching a live performance of some of the most-loved gospel songs. Let’s just say it far surpasses your average avo-on-toast.

We would especially recommend the Bird Royale Feast which consists of a whole fried chicken, waffles, biscuits, mash and greens and Rooster sauce.

Booking is absolutely recommended and be aware that a five-pound charge will be added to your bill to cater for the choir.

Make a reservation here.  

A journey of flavours at Le Petit Chef

Let colourful projections take you on a dining journey 

This restaurant on Dalston’s Kingsland Road takes storytelling through cuisine to the next level. Not only is the six-course taster menu designed to use unique textures, tastes, smells and ingredients to transport you around the world, but there’s a 3D animated film projected onto your table, too.

From course to course your taste buds will find themselves touring the globe. You’ll start in Marseilles, then on to Arabia, India, the Himalayas and China. Each delicious morsel is expertly matched by TT Liquor’s mixologists with a bespoke cocktail or wine pairing, to ensure the flavour of each culture is experienced to the fullest.

While you’re filling your boots, the restaurant’s miniature chef, Marco, will appear in front of you (courtesy of a projector) to talk you through the far and mysterious lands that have inspired the dishes, running along your tablecloth and underneath your knife and fork all the while.

Make a reservation here.  

Dine on the canal with London Shell Company

Sail down the canal with the London Shell Company 

Worlds away from the over-subscribed tourist trap cruises that rattle along the Thames, the London Shell Company offers a quaint, specialist dining experience with beautiful views of Regent’s Canal.

Brother and sister team Harry and Leak Lobek run the two-hour canal cruises which specialise in five-course menus of the finest seafood Britain has to offer. From Tuesday to Saturday, you can climb aboard the Prince Regent at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm departure and sail your way through the depths of the Maida Hill Tunnel, past iconic landmarks such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park.

Set menus are priced at £45 but if you just fancy a bite to eat in an extraordinary, water-bound setting, you can try the static lunch any time from 12-2pm from Tuesday to Friday in Paddington Central.

Make a reservation here.  

An Evening of Meat at The Vaults 

A performer and diners at An Evening of Meat 

Waterloo’s previously disused maze of railway arches are brought to life as a home for immersive theater and alternative arts, interspersed with dining and drinking.

In the main area of The Vaults you can find a selection of ever-changing bar spaces, ranging from dimly-lit nooks perfect for sipping wine, to bean-bag-populated lofts. But if it’s an unusual or immersive dining experience is what you’re looking for, this place has something rather extraordinary up its sleeve.

It goes without saying that if you’re a carnivore, An Evening of Meat will be right up your street. But not only can you sink your teeth into a six-course fine dining feast, with each section featuring a selection of delectable and rare meat pairings, you’ll also play witness to a live performance from four talented dancers.

Historically, women have long been degraded as ‘pieces of meat’ and this eye-popping show seeks to illustrate the strength, power and unbridled wildness of the female species, in a performance that sees performers rise up like a phoenix, and make it clear that nobody is a piece of meat.

Make a reservation here.  

The Service at Café de Paris 

Café de Paris 

Café de Paris, in London’s Piccadilly, is one of the most famous entertainment venues in the world, with a glittering history spanning more than nine decades. Its famously jaw-dropping circus, burlesque and dance performances are now being fused with food to create a Friday night cabaret dinner that you won’t want to miss.

Discover the stories of debauched royalty and theatrical retellings of iconic moments as your host and Maître d’, armed with razor-sharp wit, expertly guides you through a night of magical immersive performances. With cheeky bellboys serving champagne suspended high above diners’ heads, acrobatic maids and plenty more surprises to enjoy, it’s a night you won’t forget in a hurry.

See more information here

Breaking Bread at Ace Hotel 

Ace Hotel 

Breaking Bread is a monthly gathering that serves up a feast for the mind and body. Hosted in Ace Hotel’s stylish rooftop bar and terrace in Shoreditch, guests can enjoy panoramic views of the London skyline while listening to a series of inspirational speakers discussing how both sound and music can influence your taste buds.

To give you a little sneak peek of what’s in store, this month’s event Sonic Feast showcased the correlation between taste and sound with a multisensory sit-down dinner, specially composed to highlight the immersive power these two senses hold when brought together. 

The agenda of May’s event is yet to be disclosed, but you can keep an eye out for more details coming soon, here

The London Cabaret Club at The Bloomsbury Ballroom

The London Cabaret Club

You may have already been lucky enough to experience the charms of The London Cabaret Club through one of its pop-up residences at venues such as the Arts Club or One Mayfair, but considering all of its events were sell-out successes, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were yet to get your mitts on a ticket.

Thankfully, though, this legendary late-night London haven has taken up permanent residence at The Bloomsbury Ballroom and will be serving a menu of dishes and drinks inspired by the show for a seamless and immersive experience every weekend.

The high-energy and engaging shows celebrate the rich heritage of British culture, past and present, with a James Bond themed show taking place every Saturday and Best of British Pop every Friday.

Expect mesmerising dancers recreating London’s explosive punk movement of the Seventies, prepare to feel the ocean spray as a Bond girl emerges dramatically from the sea and get ready to taste the Indian spice market during the Bollywood Octopussy finale – you’re in for a wild ride. 

Book tickets here.

Images: Courtesy of venues