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Too Much Is Never Enough: A Collaboration between Disappearing Dining Club and 123 Bethnal Green Road

Disappearing Dining Club takes us on an 'exploration' of 123 Bethnal Green Road, serving a sumptuous four course meal over four floors…

Written by Matt Bramford

123 Bethnal Green Road by Gareth A Hopkins

The phrase ‘unique dining experience’ usually makes me want to puke. East London, for all its charm, has become a haven for ludicrous events rendering me breathless and thinking ‘what the HELL will they come up with next?!’ Film screenings on fridges, fashion shows in abandoned car parks – ‘pop-up’ bars in your own loo – you get the picture. But I think the latest collaboration between Disappearing Dining Club and 123 Bethnal Green Road is something special: Christ, it was a complete treat.

All photography by Matt Bramford

On entering 123, you’re greeted and given cocktails. This, in my opinion, should be mandatory in all retail outlets. This gives guests a chance to peruse what’s on offer on the lower floor and in the newly refurbished Scout Hut. There’s an excellent range of gifts available in the newly-organised front, and I spent more than a reasonable amount of time cooing over the Beyoncé paper-doll making kit. There’s also a good selection of candles, tea cups, furnishings – the lot. The Scout Hut has now been transformed into a showroom for the latest in new and ethical fashion – it was great to see William Richard Green‘s latest collection with a stockist, as well as many designers we’ve enjoyed on the catwalks recently – Lako Bukia being one of my favourites.

When we’d had a browse we were informed to climb the three flights of stairs to the very top of the building to begin our feast. The newly-refurbished, gentlemen’s lounge-style menswear floor (above) is breathtaking. Old wood panels, cabinets with trinkets and a roaring fire greeted us, as did two bowls of punch – one rum & pineapple, the other a wintery mix of gin, cranberries and spices. Small canapés were served, with plenty to choose from: butternut squash soup in vintage sherry glasses, potted meat on sourdough chunks and cheese pastries.

Beef Bourguignon by Gareth A Hopkins

You’re given an allocated time for your main course, which takes place on the first floor surrounded by ladieswear and lingerie. A guide told us to grab a plate and a knife and fork and tuck in, which I did with ease. Two huge cast iron hot pots of beef bourguignon and aubergine and chickpea stew were on offer in the centre of a large wooden table, giving off aromas only achievable through slow-cooking techniques that, frankly, I can never be arsed with.

Breads were aplenty and wine free-flowed at one end. We took our seats and tucked in – savouring every mouthful as if it might be our last. It’s no use organising these experimental evenings if your cooking isn’t up to scratch – but I couldn’t raise a single criticism about any of this hearty food. In addition, bowls of heaped salads were there for the taking – featuring tasty combinations like couscous & pomegranate and butternut squash & honey orange. Unfortunately we were seated at the same time as a rather rowdy bunch who were celebrating an even rowdier friend’s birthday. He was a little annoying.

Cocktails by Gareth A Hopkins

As if that wasn’t enough, desert was served in the bunker café – the original venue for the Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration (ACOFI) launch party. We were greeted with a cocktail – we opted for a whiskey and Canadian maple syrup option – delicious and the perfect wash-down for a mince pie. I skipped the ice-cold rum shots – by this point I was already questioning my own name, and we left pretty soon afterwards, leaving Rowdy McRowd and his pals to party the night away, guzzling even more cocktails while a DJ played.

A great concept – and diners get 10% off to stock up on ethical fashion designers and Christmas gift ideas. It’s not cheap – at £50 a head, this sort of thing is best saved for a special occasion, but it’s definitely worth it if you’ve got one coming up. Don’t eat lunch, though, and don’t expect to leave sober – sometimes too much can be enough.

Too Much is Never Enough runs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 123 Bethnal Green Road from Tuesday 22 November to Thursday 22 December.


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2 Responses to “Too Much Is Never Enough: A Collaboration between Disappearing Dining Club and 123 Bethnal Green Road”

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi! 123 are so pleased you had a great night with us and love your illustrations and write up of the evening! Many thanks Michelle xxxxxx

  2. Amelia says:

    Can I come along next time please Michelle? sounds fab, Amelia x

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