Today’s diner doesn’t simply want great food when eating out – they also want to be entertained. This entertainment comes in a seemingly limitless variety of forms, as ‘immersive dining’ takes the nation by storm.
Simon Stenning, of MCA Insight, explains: “Whilst some operators could say that exceptional, experiential value is what they have been delivering already, we believe that the bar has been raised and that consumer expectations are now higher than ever, and that it is critical that operators deliver even more of an experience.
Consumers are expectant of getting great value from every eating out occasion, and therefore every occasion needs to deliver a real experience; this can mean many different things, ranging from the atmosphere and environment, to a distinct way of serving a dish, through to full immersion with a seat at the chef’s table in the kitchen.”
Simon continues: There are many different ways in which operators can give their guests a real experience, and get them immersed, which will really drive perceptions of value (even if you’re cooking it yourselves!), but also give guests a chance to share their experiences through social media, which will then drive brand awareness for the operator. “MCA would recommend that any experiences are really well thought through and planned, so that they have significant impact, but they can deliver great value and therefore revenue successes for the operator.
James Knappett’s Kitchen Table has now gained a 2nd Michelin star and is simply counter seating for 20 around a small kitchen. The restaurant is reached through a discreet entrance at the back of the Bubbledogs champagne and hotdog concept.
But we are also seeing other ways of providing an immersive experience, such as the ways of serving cocktails, as seen particularly at The Botanist sites, where watering cans are famously used instead of jugs for sharing cocktails.
One of MCA’s new Concepts to Watch is Hot Pot Spot in Cardiff, where guests choose a broth and then cook their own ingredients in it, at their table!
Off with their heads
Based in the historic St Katharine Docks in central London, Country Range customer The Medieval Banquet offers diners the opportunity to join King Henry VIII at a royal banquet served by knights and wenches.
Marta San Juan explains: “On arrival, our royal guests are led down to the Great Hall to mingle with other guests as well as medieval and mystical characters. They are treated to a 4-course banquet with drinks, and a fantastic array of entertainment, which includes professionally trained fighting knights, acrobats, musicians, singers, dancers and court jesters.”
Hit the high notes
Opera-themed restaurant Bel Canto in Hyde Park, London, offers fine French food in a warm and intimate dining room, served by singing waiters. “
“Our professional opera singers have been trained at some of the most prestigious conservatoires and academies in the world and will be happy to share the stories and history behind each aria they sing.”
The singers perform every 15 minutes and diners are asked to refrain from talking during the performances.
The art of dining
At Lady Celeste’s Parisian Rooftop Bar, diners can partake in a spot of life drawing in a wigwam and hear about the golden age of surrealism in Paris, whilst tucking in to French delights such as raclette and charcuterie.
Gaming fans will be in virtual heaven at Inamo. Their Games Room offers a unique private area with its own bar and private dining options with double wall projections and a choice of over 150 games on popular games consoles, where up to 8 players can game simultaneously.