Kitchen Party is an immersive pop-up experience in Clerkenwell curated by Bourne and Hollingsworth (of the kitsch cocktail bar fame on Rathbone Place), or as they describe it, “an orgy of drinking, dining and weird culture”.
It didn’t so much strike me as weird as really rather charming. A delightful host greets you in the light and airy ‘Fourth Wall’ cocktail bar and, if you have reserved to eat at one of the dining experiences, will happily set out the evening ahead of you.
There is extreme garnishing with the Robin Collective (I saw the colourful aftermath in a beautiful wood panelled dining room littered with decorations), grand seasonal tasting menus with Blanch and Shock, as well as interactive installations such as Russian Revels with dining and immersive theatre all rolled into one.
And our choice, the ultimate BBQ: Rack and Ruin.
With the fashion to push for edgier and more inventive dining and cocktail experiences, a bar called the Fourth Wall could spark fear or delight at the thought of being dragged into a skit with an over enthusiastic bartender.
In actuality, the relaxed Fourth Wall serves classic tea inspired Bourne and Hollingsworth cocktails in mismatched china teacups and delicate glasses. The tables and chairs keep to the summery afternoon tea theme with leaf prints and flowers set against white walls and furniture.
In contrast, after enjoying a cocktail in this leisurely and light oasis, my guest and I ventured into the rustic and rugged adjoining room for the meat extravaganza that is ‘Rack and Ruin’.
And there’s no danger of over exaggeration here: on entering the dedicated dining area you are met by a huge open grill with several meats rotating (and a couple of vegetables for show),overseen by the Chef, who wouldn’t look out of place in an Asterix comic book novel with his deep tan and grisly beard.
This English medieval BBQ, with meat soaked in brine and roasted for days, offers generous portions of mutton, lamb, chicken, beef, pork belly and ribs. There are delicious traditional chutneys and homemade coleslaws on offer too.
But let’s face it, this is all about the meat: both the taste and the spectacle. Admittedly, up to a point it all rather tastes similar from the cooking process, but the salty pork belly and slow cooked beef are highlights.
It’s a friendly, fun and intimate atmosphere and you’ll be likely to chat to the other guests as you question whether it’s possible to consume one more hunk of beef and enthusiastically Instagram the huge open grill. Perfect for any meat lover, I couldn’t help thinking as I left “I have finally found the ideal pop-up for Dad.”
Tip: Different dining experiences are only available on certain nights of the week. Make sure you check out which you want to go for and ensure you have the correct night booked!
If you like visiting pop-restaurants and events like Kitchen Party, click here to read our guide to this summer’s best offerings or sign up to our journal.