So, I had an incredible immersive dining experience at the DC Comics-inspired Monarch Theatre at Park Row - but I'm not going to tell you about it.
Or at least I am, but not in my usual exhaustive detail; quite simply, I don't want to spoil it for you.
Park Row founder, James Bulmer, is the creative mind behind The Monarch Theatre experience and has designed it to trigger specific emotions through the room’s environment and the food presented to the guests, tying into the theatrical narrative of the evening. The experience is a fully holistic one; the dining and immersive elements are as inextricably entwined as Poison Ivy's vines.
I can tell you that there's an exceptional 10-course tasting menu (12 if you count the amuse-bouche and the hand-made chocolates) which includes an excellent wine & cocktail pairing (or a non-alcoholic pairing that has been equally carefully considered) and that it has been curated by Executive Chef Karl O’Dell, formerly of Michelin-starred Texture.
I'm willing to reveal that you enter Park Row through a Batcave-esque hidden door in a bookcase, down a dimly-lit winding staircase, through a menacing backlit doorway, past a huge golden map of Gotham on the wall and into a series of bars straight from Bruce Wayne's billionaire lifestyle. You are then taken to a hidden cocktail bar, where you get tickets for your welcome drink (and get to play dragon's breath), then into Monarch Theatre's 20-seat dining room with state-of-the-art floor-to-ceiling projection mapping.
Often with immersive events, the food is a minor character, almost an extra; at Monarch Theatre it is an Oscar-worthy lead. Again, I don't want to spoil it for you but if you've ever watched Great British Menu and admired the luxurious dishes and dramatic themed presentation, you're going to want to try this; it's as close to the judging chamber as you can get. Lobster? Tick. Caviar? Tick. Truffle, champagne, gold leaf? Tick, tick, tick. The menu might play with your senses, but it will also dazzle them.
I'm even prepared to divulge that your favourite DC characters influence certain aspects of the evening. Who and how? That would be telling. Oh, and if the plate above looks like it's hovering above the table - that's because IT IS. And the one above that? Yep, actually made of ice.
I now want to go and play in the Park Row bars; an ice sculpture of the Penguin in the Iceberg Lounge, cocktails poured from picture frames in Rogues' Gallery, an automatic whisky dispenser. There is nothing else remotely like this in London and it is the kind of escapism that we all need right now.
Book here: https://parkrowlondon.co.uk/monarch-theatre/
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Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Amanda David is a freelance writer specialising in London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and events and is a regular contributor to London Cheapo and Palate magazine.
She has also just launched a website, A Cook's Bookshelf, reviewing cookbooks old and new, with side-by-side photographs of recipe illustrations next to her home-cooked version.
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