Some of London’s most creative dining experiences come in the form of a supper club where music, art and comedy can all mesh with eating and drinking.
Supper Clubs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are all about the food and nothing else. Others focus on art and design. And the extra special ones add in just about any other kind of immersive thing you can think of – comedy, music, theatrics, video installations and tech.
It’s all done in the spirit of having a really unique night out. Something you can’t just do at home yourselves. And something the confines of traditional dining can never match.
They are also usually pop-up in style, taking place in all sorts different locations, running at odd times of the year. The best ones out there gather a cult following of fans who scour their social media pages, waiting to hear about the next event, booking themselves in as soon as possible. Here are the top five we think you should follow and keep an eye out for.
The masterminds behind The Gramounce supper clubs, Nora Silva and Finn Thomson, focus on the relationship between food and art. They aim to challenge the concept of the art gallery, question the relationship of artists and labour, and successfully fund art projects. They turn the entire dining experience into a show with performers moving around the space and artists putting their installations on display. This is all done to help the audience feel more at home with contemporary art and understand the messages trying to be relayed to viewers. Food also tastes delicious. That certainly helps.
Run by the ever-hilarious Maria K Georgiou and Rhiannon Butler, (just check out their Instagram stories for regular videos of their shenanigans) Mam Sham has a very clear aim for their supper club events – to provide good grub and ‘lols’. They curate two massive shows every year for the public, with each dish working alongside a stand-up comedian who is working to a theme set out by the two women running the show. They collaborate with a whole host of different chefs too, depending on what cuisine and theme they’re championing. For these public ticketed events, the proceeds to go charity. But they also do a lot of private catering throughout the year for corporates and the like who are looking to make their work party a little extra special.
Most of these supper clubs can get fairly hands on. The table becomes a piece of edible artwork from which everyone can tuck into (see above). And the rest of the room can be filled with hanging food, art installations and even the occasional dancer. You’ll be diving into jars upon jars of pickles and ferments with tongs before catching droplets of honey falling down from the ceiling. Dos Santos also takes collaboration to the next level, as seen with her critically acclaimed pop-up exhibition Tender Touches, which saw artists and chefs from all backgrounds come together to produce a month-long series of supper club-styled events at the AMP Gallery down in Peckham. She also has a strong focus on sustainability, making a lot of her edible installations ethical too. Art has never tasted so good.
These guys are the big dogs of the London supper club scene – putting on regular dining nights throughout the year. They focus on blending food and culture together – brilliantly done with their cinema supper club events which run each month, showcasing different films and cuisines alongside one another. Meet up with people who share a passion for food and whatever niche culture is being explored at these events and get swept up in all the fun. Kino Vino champions communal dining and meeting new people, as is done at most supper clubs, so come ready to make some new friends.
This is the all-inclusive supper club. Founders Benjamina and Bonita go to great lengths to make the space and experience as accessible and welcoming as possible to people from all backgrounds. They are the socially minded dining experience creators. For them, one of the most important elements of a supper club is the simple act of taking part in a shared experience. It encourages inclusion and a real sense of belonging. The food and drink here will be outstanding (Benjamina was a quarter finalist for the Great British Bake Off in 2016), but the most special part of the experience is the overwhelming sense of positivity and openness you feel during and after.
Lead Image: One of Inês Neto dos Santos’ edible installations. Image courtesy of the Illustration School