When we read about the Disappearing Dining Club (DDC) in one of our favourite industry mags, Event, we had high hopes for the idea, bringing high quality dining to the masses, combined with great atmosphere, unusual venues and the possibility to meet like minded people.
As I was wading through a seemingly endless catalogue of options for a gastronmically focused New Year’s Eve at the time, I was excited to learn that I could savour a sweetbread, truffle and beef filled menu courtesy of the DDC for a mere £80 and experience for myself whether the big idea in theory could perform in actuality.
In the build up to NYE, the five course menu, which began with canapés and a Grey Goose cocktail and finished with cheese, was encouraging. After queuing at the entrance of typically Shoreditch venue, Factory 7 and eventually finding a space for the three of us to sit at one of the two runway length banqueting tables, I turned to my neighbour, a dapper gentleman in hat and waistcoat and introduced myself. My new friend remarked on his difficulty in finding room for his party and revealed that a further 50 dining tickets had been released the previous week, upping the total number of diners to over 220.
It was going to be very impressive if the fine dining I envisaged could be achieved for so many.
Granted, the format of the night had to accommodate the compulsory drinking and dancing befitting the celebration of the onset of a new calendar year, however the evening’s events resembled much less the ‘dining club’ to which it owed its name, rather a disco in a warehouse.
I am unable to comment on the canapés which, had I had the opportunity to taste any, would I’m sure have been delicious. The sweetbread, lobster and truffle starter was very enjoyable and as it was a ballotine, there were no temperature issues between plating up and delivery to the table.
The same cannot be said of the main course. The side of broccoli was apparently designed to be served cold, so it sat modestly between my friends and I until, around an hour later and by far the last on our table, we were offered a slice of lukewarm Beef Wellington. The potatoes were lost somewhere in translation.
It was at this point that the waiting list to have words with the Manager became quite long. A queue matched only in length by the line for the loos, as the ladies was experiencing a malfunction and the two cubicles in the gents had to suffer stoically the onslaught of attention from what was, by now, not just our 220 odd diners but those who held 9pm drinks and canapé tickets too.
A crème caramel came and went, 11pm arrived and the dance floor was already filled with keen midnight attendants, so the selection of cheeses had to be abandoned in favour of a bottle of bubbly and relocation to a good spot in anticipation of the 2012 countdown.
Reading this back to myself, it is hard to miss the slightly negative undertone, which is regrettable as the DDC is an enterprise and an idea that we at AatI applaud. As the Bible tells us though, the truth shall set us free, so I can only report that the theory and the reality in this instance were far apart.
We await eagerly to be shown that this is not the final word and that the DDC shall rise again like the Phoenix from the flames to claim the crown of London’s unusual fine dining.