London is full of beautiful restaurants and great places to eat, but in a city as innovative as this, for all its inventive pop-ups, is there anything truly new left? It’s certainly something to consider having visited Christabels for a recent Edible Playground supper club dinner party. Craft beer pubs all over the city are taking us back to our childhood with vintage board games and Harry Potter trivial pursuit a plenty. But this lady, with a slight Paloma Faith air to her, is taking it to another level. Ever eaten a quinoa sandcastle? Or painted the beloved chicken breast? Think all that and more at Christabel’s Gainsborough Studio flat, which boasts pretty views of Shoreditch park and East London’s lights.
The sheer level of creativity in this culinary enclave highlights stagnation in London’s foodie scene and certainly usurps it. While supper clubs might be making a name for themselves in lavish venues across the city, here things are taken back to their origins.
The name itself, Edible Playground, was intriguing and I expected this to be more of an immersive installation than an actual bona fide dinner. If you think about it for a second, turning up at Christabel’s flat feels intrusive. You realise you are sat around a table, in a strange house, with strange people surrounding you, about to have your dinner. You should feel slightly like you don’t belong but that idea is fleeting.
Instead it feels a bit like going round to your mates’ dinner party. Here, things are chilled, fun, exciting and bloody good. Upon entry a canape and cocktail awaits you and every course is served to squeals of delights.
We took our queue at the long, vibrantly decorated dinner table. Attention to detail is notable in the mismatched glasses and cutlery – haphazard like a child. People of all ages and disciplines are welcome and we got chatting to city financiers. Praise must be given to Christabel for her ability to remain unflappable while entertaining, looking after and cooking for strangers in her own home.
The food was cooked perfectly, a mean feat when catering for 12 in a home kitchen and trying to get food out in sync and sill hot. Bowls of quinoa are placed next to mini toy buckets to get you brandishing your sandcastle making skills – mine were very rusty and my stronghold crumbled immediately – and dressings scream Crayola pink.
You’ll also paint a three-day old marinade over succulent chicken breasts and enjoy a playful, twofold dessert.
Phase one starts as glittered shortbread. Here Jengo skills are crucial and a chocolate tart arrives with a solid dark chocolate lego piece to compliment the plastic toy cubes dotted around the table. There’s no strict rules here and if the food looks too good to play with (and it is) then go ahead and get stuck in, but I highly recommend getting your fingers sticky.
Everything remains delightfully childlike right up until the final minute when you have to leave. Remember your mum coming to collect you after what felt like five minutes of priceless playtime
Visit: Gainsborough Studios, London N1