What unfolds is a symbiosis between The Shining and, erm, Fawlty Towers? Everything goes tits up leaving the hapless maître d’ and company of very enthusiastic sidekicks squabbling like fish out of water. Despite the uniqueness of merging performance with cuisine, the theatricality is familiar. It’s the same brand of tacky shenaniganism that The Play That Goes Wrong mastered. Except food is served between the acts.
Sure it isn’t Oedipus Rex, but what do you want? It is a self-consciously silly set-up. There’s enough narrative thread and giggles to tie the evening together between the inoffensive cabaret acts – of which Ginger Johnson (currently a finalist on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK) is the show-stealing drag queen. But you can’t take the 70s too seriously. Velvet Pines certainly doesn’t.
The atmospheric warehouse-cum-ski lodge is a good laugh with charming attention to detail. It’s decked out with alpine décor, velvet and velour, and with shag carpets laid under burnt orange furniture. It’s just about the only place in London where a turtleneck is not an incongruous fashion choice.
Velvet Pines immersive dining
The dining experience riffs on the ambiance with a retro-inspired menu. Robustly vinegary Jerusalem artichokes on a mound of feta to start. The main is a soggy duck miso bourguignon in a mush of carrot and orange purée with festive red cabbage and a Yorkshire pudding on the side. The duck announces itself in an oversized cocktail glass garnished with a lone Brussels sprout which makes you wonder if setting this in the 1970s was a good decision: the decade is not fondly remembered for its culinary achievements. (Salad in a jelly, anyone?) The baked alaska that follows provides a suitably balanced landing, one of the few gimmicky dishes that has successfully survived.
Could it be that theatre and dinner are better off not getting into bed together? For £85 per head (not including drinks) you can afford a decent dinner with enough for tickets to a good show. You don’t have to eat and be entertained at the same time, and not everything has to immerse you in a totalising experience. Velvet Pines’ kitschy charm is affable fun, but not quite enough to warm the heart of this Scrooge.
Velvet Pines takes place at 49 Tanner Street, London SE1 3PL. Click here to book.
|What||Velvet Pines, London Bridge review|
09 Nov 23 – 23 Dec 23, 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|