Honestly I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to accept a last-minute invitation to the press preview of Dinner Is Coming, the new Game of Thrones-themed supper club at The Vaults in Waterloo, because I’ve been to these sorts of things before and they tend to be badly-organised, poorly-catered and horribly overpriced. But I’d just watched the first episode of the Season 8, which was a bit of a scene-setting, slow-burning jobbie, so I was gagging for something Westerosi to put me on until the following Monday.
I’m glad I did though, because it was actually a pretty fantastic night out. Maybe it helped that expectations were so low, but it was an evening dotted with what I can only describe as moments of genuine delight. Without giving too much away, it’s basically a murder mystery that you solve collectively by pledging your allegiance to one of the various houses in play – the Bannisters, the Trywells or the Tarragons. (You get a coloured wristband when you sign in which represents your house, but you can defect at any time by going to the bar and asking to swap. Be sure to pick the same coloured wristband as everyone in your party at first so you stay together – you can always switch later.)
The opening scene unfolds in the Throne Room – check out the Iron Throne replica made from knives and forks – but before it all kicks off there’s time to grab a drink from the bar and mingle with some of the characters, which include Margarine Trywell, Varicose the Master of Whispers, Kirsty Bannister and Jaffrey Bearathon, all of whom magnificently channel all the best (and worst) traits of their source characters. (Jaffrey in particular, my boyfriend Mike commented, really captured the essence of being a ‘smug c*nt’.) The cast are the real stars of the evening, delivering deftly written parody that with a bit of tweaking could be a legit show all by itself on the fringe circuit. In between scenes, they’re wandering in between tables interacting with guests and showing off their improv chops.
Food starts coming out once everyone moves to the Banqueting Room, which is impressively decked out in bunting, chandeliers and all the usual fixtures of a medieval feasting tent. (It does get warm in there though, so dress in layers!) Starters and puddings are both vegan and gluten-free: the former an acid green, creamy, smooth and garlicky pea and asparagus soup (I was sceptical but now I’m Googling vegan asparagus soup recipes. I think the secret is nutritional yeast. It’s always bloody yeast with these people.) The latter is a boozy poached pear with cinnamon and star anise, which was nice for what it was but, as Jons Know said, in an accent clearly but inexplicably based on Paddy McGuinness, “It’s fruit! Yer can’t have fruit for puddin’, it’s not right!”
A selection of mains – half vegan, half meat – are served ‘feasting’-style, i.e. on large platters from which everyone helps themselves. There’s more than enough to go around and the only dud was a ‘lightly spiced’ roast cauliflower, which could have been more accurately billed as…roast cauliflower. Crispy chicken wings were fat and flavoursome, but the surprise favourite was a rich bean and sweet potato pie.
If you’re not used to feasting/family-style dining, or maybe not very comfortable with the idea of sitting and eating alongside strangers, it’s a good way to dip a toe into the wonderful world of supper clubs, because you have something in common with every single person at the table. Small talk is completely eliminated because everyone is going to be interested in your mental Night King theories, or your weird character crushes. (For me it’s Ser Jorah, and I think we can all agree that if Greyworm wasn’t missing his cock and balls he’d be the perfect man.)
Tickets range between £35-55/head, with peak pricing on Fridays and Saturdays and the lowest prices on Tuesdays and Sundays. (There’s also a 50% off ticket deal on Time Out for a limited time, which is absolutely mental value and worth it for the show alone. Otherwise, tickets are available here.) Drinks are not included but there’s decently priced beer and wine on offer (and a free glass of Arbor Gold/Dornish Red the end to anyone who correctly solves the murder mystery!) Cocktails are both inventive and well-mixed, as well as reasonably priced at £9/each. We tried the cinnamon-laced whisky-based Waterloo Wildfire, and the Queen of Lizards, a sharp, sour combination of smokey mezcal and grapefruit juice.
Dinner Is Coming is probably the best immersive dining experience I’ve had the pleasure of trying, which is saying something as my former favourite was the wildly successful Gingerline supper club. The food is good and the production values are strong (there are even live dragons!) but it’s the atmosphere that seals the deal.
Dinner Is Coming is playing at The Vaults Tuesday-Sunday until 14th July 2019.
Leake St, Lambeth, London SE1 7NN
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.