The air was fraught with neon lights, splashes of aqua blues and lime green at Gingerline’s TV dinners, buzzing gameshow contestants who hankered after a challenge. Part gameshow, part immersive dining experience, Gingerline’s TV dinners was laced with 90’s nostalgia, plunging you into a world nestled with TV-esque cliches, where contestants would compete against the clock to win extra food, oh how we chortled. Four courses would swim provocatively into our mouths, our tongues salivating with undisguised admiration, eyes wide open. Kedgeree tofu marinated in a swathe of yogurt, battling aleppo pepper spiced pumpkin, climbing aboard drunken stilton. Fennel tartin potato fondant slurping up torched orange, peach melba wrapped in whipped cream. Bubbling prosecco on the tip of our tongue, a hedonistic delight, a smile on crowd-goers faces. For Gingerline events had done it again, cartwheeling and cavorting over London to conjure the best immersive dining experiences since 2013, a real crowdpleaser. Could Gingerline TV Dinners be its best one yet?
And thus our story begun, one winter’s evening in the middle of January, we could barely contain our glee.The 90’s nostalgia ran rampant throughout the night, a gameshow themed dining adventure that tickled us pink. From the flashy host couple, Midge and Madge who made us laugh with their oh-so-cheesy puns, to the whimsical addition of ‘Snack- a Max 2000’, a ‘TV headed robot’, TV Dinners was a bawdy, extroverted ‘live show’ that would leave us wanting more, more, more. In four rounds, the five teams would battle it out to see who would be the ultimate champ, oh how we craved those extra treats. Madge, our gameshow host excitedly scuttled over to Snack- a Max 2000, who presented us with the creme de le creme of prizes, Wartburton bagels, tantalizingly within reach. It was a ridiculous, light hearted adventure, Team Heat, Zesty Zingers, Bouncing Berries, Glorious Greens and Ice Cold Crew battling it out to savor those fluffy,moreish bagels. For it wasn’t just the bagels that spurred us on, but the extra sweet treats that we could win along the way, desserts to make our mouth water, let the games begin. We lumbered up for the gameshow, 10-12 people taking it in turns to win a point for their team, one designated ‘camera holder’ who would be filming the whole gameshow live. The hosts came over to our respective tables, sussing out the strongest teams, would the Ice Cold Crew emblazoned in blue step forward to devour all snacks?
The lady in the blue floral dress appeared to be the subject of the host’s attentions, interviewing me on my favourite food, questioning my knowledge and complimenting my style of dress. It was a rather whimsical and tranquil exercise to make us feel comfortable as we bartered back and forth, peals of laughter ringing around the room. Oh how we laughed, as their jokes bordered naughty, 90’s innuendos wrapped up in creamy cheese sandwiches. Interview segment over, we made friends at our table, discussing who would complete in each gameshow segment , we wanted to win. I volunteered as tribute for the ‘physical’ and ‘foodie knowledge round, but craved the deliciousness of the tasting round, which would have been my first choice. Alas my fate was sealed, no allergy sufferers allowed, round 2 in the physical heat would be my only time to shine, never mind. The first round was upon us, fizzing prosecco swilled in mouths for pre-empted Dutch Courage, could we come out on top?
Chants of ‘Everyone’s a Winner at TV Dinners’ rang out throughout the room, a welcoming mantra that allowed us to embrace Gingerline immersive dining in all its grandiose silliness. Two volunteers per team took their places with pride on stage, the spirit of the gameshow experience inside of them. They raced against the clock, tasting secret items in their mouth blindfolded, the audience urged to not shout out the answers lest they suffer the wrath of disqualification, a hellish purgatory that noone wanted to face. Four special ingredients lolling on tongues in separation, Ice Cold Crew snatching points left, right and centre, we wanted to cinch that win. The teams were competitive but lovingly so, egging each other on in the race to snatch that coveted golden bagel. And who could forget the lovable Midge and Madge, sublime hosts who were enthusiastic, ecstatic and extroverted entertainers and had come to play in the very best way?
A cross between Butlins with a dashing of cabaret glitz, Gingerline’s TV Dinners was taking no prisoners. From the vibrant quickfire round , peppered with tantalizing courses, to stand up comedy and impromptu dancing, it was impossible to not fall in love with this immersive London dining experience, in the heart of Bond Street. Not only did the hosts radiate magnificent energy throughout but TV Dinners also brought people from all ages together for one night only, basking in the infectious enthusiasm of Gingerline’s TV Dinners. Speaking of enthusiasm, our faces lit up as our first courses arrived, ice cream esque sundae glasses waiting to be devoured like hungry beasts. Veggies feasted on Kedgeree tofu marinated in yogurt, bengali cholar daal drizzled enticingly on a singular rice cracker. A Quails egg nestled on coriander cremolota finished off the dish superbly,the cholar daal and the marinated tofu accentuating the lime like flavour of the coriander in glorious ascension. For non veggies,the dish was adapted to contain smoked haddock, which was lightly spiced and mild in taste according to my teammates.
Dishes cleared, drinks sipped, our game faces were on, in third place could we rise up the ranks? The activity round was up, it was ready, steady, go, one person on a spinny merry-go- round with a team coloured hat. You burst out laughing at its utter ridiculousness, thankful that you would not be the one spun round, instead throwing balls into your partner’s hat, alongside another team mate. Safe to say we didn’t quite smash that challenge, finding our aim a lot more difficult to master than we initially thought. Still despite our less than stellar performance, we still managed to win points, as other teams points were deducted for throwing balls into the wrong team’s hat’s. A round where we could win points and steal points from other teams turned out to be an absolute blast, tears of laughter streaming down our faces simultaneously.
Before we knew it, our time was up, our team mates welcoming us with open arms and even warmer hearts. Our second course was just around the corner, our tongues hanging out our mouths like kittens begging for milk. Aleppo pepper spiced pumpkin for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, red peppers and drunken Stilton chillaxing in a sweet and sour agrodolce sauce. Radicchio danced with Wartburton croutons, the effect was mesmerizing, we relished every bite. Gingerline’s TV Dinners was a riot for the senses, the pumpkin warmly spiced, making out with drunken Stilton that was clearly living its best life. It was hard to choose between the tofu kedgeree and the pepper spiced pumpkin, the only critique being that the portions throughout Gingerline’s TV dinners were fairly small, but other than this small detail, our food was a true masterpiece of gastronomic innovation. It was clear to see,whether this was your first Gingerline experience or one of many that Gingerline were the ultimate pioneers of underground immersive dining, creating a nomadic theatrical supper club that changed the way we ate our food.For it wasn’t just about the food, or even the entertainment, but about bringing people together to make dining social again. And wasn’t Gingerline’s TV Dinners the most glorious social experiment of all?
The nomadic fusion of food, gameshow dining and drink had entered its third round, in a supermarket sweep style set up which was hilarious to the core. Contestants were tasked with figuring out the ingredients for a specific dish chosen for them, before scrambling across the stage to shop for those ingredients in true 90’s fashion, it almost felt like home. Oddly comforting, the challenge was a great task to get teammates bonding, working together to make a delicious ‘fake meal’ that would never touch their lips, we couldn’t help but smile. Our efforts catapulted us into second place, suddenly the prized bagel was merely on the tip of the horizon. We could almost taste it. It tasted good. As if our prayers had been voiced out loud, the third course came sauntering down the runway, fennel tart tartin gossiping with potato fondant. Carrot and orange puree munching on kumquat jelly, torched orange cozying up in warm cucumber salad. The potato fondant was simply divine, you wished there was more of it as you could quite literally scoff the lot, you savor each morsel on the tip of your tongue. And who could forget the surprising taste of the fennel tartin, the sweet perfumed anise like flavour evoking the essence of spring in your awaiting mouth. The meat eaters were equally as affable about their third course, Duck A L’Orange with carrot and orange puree caressed in smooth gravy sauce.
Before we knew it the final round was upon us, a ‘foodie knowledge round’, Venus delight. Each team had a chance to decide which of the five desserts we would scoff to our hearts content if we won the round , we craved the zestiness of a lemon meringue pie. And so the battle began, we feasted our eyes on the prize, Gingerline’s TV Dinners was supplying the treats and we were 100% here for it. We did well, but missed out on our chosen treat, although the Peach Melba with caramelized peach , fresh raspberry, whipped cream, raspberry coulis , and fresh mint was a hedonistic guilty pleasure. The whipped cream was light and fluffy, the creaminess accentuating the ripeness of the peach and the tartness of the raspberries, you closed your eyes in ecstatic stupor. As our desserts slipped down our throats, and the plates were cleared, we settled back into our final two countdown. We had only gone and down it, we were down to the tiebreaker round, would the underdogs come out on top? At the last second we were pipped to the post, so close yet so far, but we cared not for the evening was a riot, pleased with our runner up position , who would have thought.
The night drew to a close, the stars hanging heavy in the navy blue sky, prosecco warmed hearts and jubilant expressions foraying into the vividness of night. Our veins coursed with adrenaline, excitement on our tongues, laughter and cheers like church bells clanging into musky darkness. Heels on cobbled pavements, tube goers rushing, keys turning in front doors, you plunged into bed and slept. Dreams came alive that night, Gingerline’s TV Dinners had done itself proud, as you relived the 90’s nostalgia that pranced around your mind. Morning rose, the birds were chirping, the spirit of Gingerline lived within you,you raised your hand and waved.