Tuesday 5 March 2019


Gingerline's The Grand Expedition – A Steampunk Dining Experience

[AD – gifted] The Grand Expedition is a new immersive dining experience promising to provide visitors a "flying, feeding, floating" night out. Set up in a secret location not too far from Central London, audience members are encouraged to dress up as aviators to fully immerse themselves in the Jules Verne-esque adventure.

The Gingerline Group creates dining experiences with a theatrical flair. They're probably best known for their successful Chamber of Flavour series, but they've created a host of other dining events as well, with themes ranging from fairy tales to the circus. Their latest endeavor offers visiting explorers the change to join an exciting journey across the world from West to East to North to South in The Grand Expedition.

One of the main attraction points of the experience is that it is shrouded in mystery. You don't even know where the dinging event takes place until you get directions send to you by text a few hours before the start time, and even then it's not entirely clear what the destination of your evening out will be until you get there. And the team wants to keep the specific contents of the experience a surprise for future guests as well, making it quite tricky to write a review as so few things can be shared.

What I can say though, is that as soon as you walk inside the location, welcomed excitedly by two-dimensional looking players, you instantly feel like you've wandered into an imaginative steampunk world. The attention to detail in the sets, costume design and overall staging of the experience is stunning, and the anticipation rises considerable because of this; a fantastical adventure obviously awaits once the click strikes 7.30pm for the start of the show.

Unfortunately the rest of the evening never quite lives up to that initial feeling of awe and wonder. Yes, we journey the world through a sensory exploration of sound, sight and taste, but while the anticipation of guessing the origins of the five different meals and trying the courses on the secret menu never gets dull, the entertainment surrounding it was less well thought out and soon felt repetitive.

Three hours is a long time to stay entertained and the performances in between the courses without much of a story soon started to expose themselves for what they really are: a filler to allow the clearing of plates and setting up the next course. A true shame, as so much attention to detail has clearly been been put in the theme of the evening and the decor, but the live entertainment never quite reaches those heights. The food too, while enjoyable and plentiful, never quite lives up to the expectations set when first entering the Jules Verne like world.

The Grand Expedition is a sensory exploration that takes you on a journey around the world in three hours and five courses. Don't let the first impression fool you though, this is not a show. It is a dining experience and the explorative take on offering guests a different kind of meal provides a fun and unique night out. So while this isn't an immersive theatrical experience, it is a very good meal set amidst spectacular steampunk surroundings.

©Photos in this post are by Rob Greig 

Gingerline's The Grand Expedition is currently taking bookings until 25 May. Get your tickets here.

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