There is something to be said for the traditional dining experience. Sitting down with loved ones to enjoy good food and conversation is an art that has been perfected across the world. Recently, however, every time I dine out in London, I see diners glancing down at their phones. While we cannot expect everyone to switch off completely to enjoy their meals, it seems that customers are often somewhat distracted. I began to wonder whether, in the modern day, people need something extra to keep them engaged before and during dinner.
While reading about diners’ inability to remain engaged with their food and dining companions for the duration of a meal, one word kept cropping up: eatertainment. Considered to be a multisensory dining experience, eatertainment is the concept of offering customers a visual or engaging addition to their meal. Although many restaurants have cabaret and live music performances, the bar has been raised and your meal could now involve gymnasts at Circus, opera singers who serve your table at Bel Canto, or a secret 1920s party at The Candlelight Club.
What is multisensory dining?
In a nutshell, multisensory dining, or eatertainment, could be anything from screens playing videos or sounds from around the world, to 3D animation bringing the dinner table to life, to introducing smells to a venue. By giving diners a more memorable experience through visual aids and other sensory additions, restaurants are providing something so much more than just a delicious meal, they are offering an opportunity be moved and engaged.
London’s hottest eatertainment experiences
Le Petit Chef - Dinner Time Story
Le Petit Chef is the eccentric creation by Dinner Time Story. Launched at TT Liquor in Shoreditch this unique eatertainment experience will take you on a weird and wonderful adventure along the Silk Road from Marseilles to India, China, the Himalayas and beyond, following the route of Marco Polo. As guests sit down to eat, a story will unfold before them. Using 3D animation, a miniature-sized chef will leap around the table, speaking in French and whipping up delicious meals. This unique, interactive six-course feast is paired with exceptional wine and cocktails.
Nadine Beshir, producer at Dinner Time Story, explained to About Time Magazine: “The mood, music, table patterns, props and decoration all change with the chapters of the story to immerse the diner into one continuous 3D projected tale. We use virtual reality, 3D projection and innovative gastronomy to tell a story within a multisensory experience. As most of our guests said: it cannot be explained, you must try it!”
Although Dinner Time Story’s collaboration with TT Liquor was initially due to run until February 2018, their residency is continuing throughout June, July and August 2018.
London’s first immersive prison-theme cocktail bar is sure to get heads turning. Upon arrival at this somewhat nightmarish concept establishment, customers will be asked to change into an orange jumpsuit and will be taken to a cell. Here, wardens will keep a watchful eye over guests as they attempt to hide contraband. If successful, they are taken to a bespoke cocktail bar. However there’s another twist – there’s not a menu in sight at Alcotraz. Your cocktails will be made from the ingredients you successfully smuggled in while in your cell.
The Berkeley Hotel – Out of the Blue
The wait is over! Opening today our 'Out Of The Blue' immersive bar experience where we will take you to a secret location in the heart of the hotel, where up to four guests can savour cocktails like never before through a multi-sensory journey of sight, scent, sound and taste... here's to saying goodbye to cocktail drinking as we know it..! 🍸🍸🍸#outofthebluebar #knightsbridge #theberkeley #thebluebar #seeforyourself
Surrounded by a 360-degree visual, sounds and aromas, guests at The Berkeley Hotel’s Out of the Blue bar will not leave disappointed. The concept of this experience is to create an immersive environment to blur the line between taste, scent and sight to enhance the flavours of the Blue Bar’s bespoke cocktails. “The cocktails take inspiration from the Blue Bar’s True Colours menu,” said The Berkeley Hotel, “tantalising the taste buds by balancing light acidity and sweetness with potency and depth.”
The Gastrophysics Chef’s Table
At one of London’s most intimate eatertainment restaurants, The Gastrophysics Chef’s Table, guests spend between 3-4 hours with Chef Jozef Youssef on a journey through 13 courses. Using ‘classic European technique, Japanese philosophy and Mexican vibrancy,’ according to the restaurant, the dishes offer a unique blend of science and art to enhance and engage the senses.
Dans le Noir?
Dining in the dark might sound like a complicated experience, but it is actually designed to heighten your senses. In perhaps the most unique example of eatertainment in the UK, Dans Le Noir invites diners to enjoy their meal in complete darkness, in the hopes that they will experience their food in a different way, through smell, taste and touch, rather than sight. “Dining in pitch darkness, hosted and served by visually impaired people, may change your point of view about many preconceived ideas of the world,” says Dans le Noir. “This unique experience will focus and sharpen your senses and enables you to taste a surprising win and food experience adapted to this unusual context. Not only will you discover a complete sensory journey, but also a brand new way to socialise.”
Specialising in Pan-Asian cuisine, Inamo is a fusion restaurant chain with a difference. An interactive menu is projected onto the table surface, allowing you to peruse the menu at your leisure, and order your desired dishes using a cursor, which then displays your chosen meal onto the white plate in front of you. If you’re curious to see what your chef is up to after you’ve ordered, select the Chef Cam option to view the kitchen. If you’re tired of the décor, change your digital tablecloth. Inamo has plenty going on to keep visitors entertained, and exquisite Pan-Asian food to match.
What’s next for eatertainment?
There is no doubt that the eatertainment trend is evolving in London and across the globe. What I like about the concept is that it focuses on engaging the customer, and businesses are constantly looking for new ways to appeal to every type of diner. In Hong Kong, Wolf Market presents Asia’s stock market bar, where drinks prices fluctuate and change in real time in front of customers. Parker’s Restaurant in Dubai aims to grasp visitors’ attention before they even sit down for their meal, by sending them on a scavenger hunt for the key to the restaurant. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this trend develops here in the UK.