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London's Pop-Ups & Supper Clubs: What's The Secret?

By Anastasia Hancock (23 Oct 13)
Tags: london pop-up,pop-up,pop up restaurant,pop up bar,supper clubs,london supper clubs,secret clubs,secret pop up,secret london,insider london,where to eat in london,where to drink in london,secret bars,secret restaurants,london events,what to do,london restaurant guide,best pop-ups,supper club,

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Hi, we're Ana and Jen at Donatina's Kitchen. We bring authentic, affordable Neapolitan food to the good people of London using original recipes handed down through the generations, and we can usually be found at food markets, appearing in the odd brewery, or at one of our regular supper clubs.

‘Pop-ups' has been bandied about the London scene for some time, and are now as ubiquitous as the “speakeasy", the password protected secret venue, and the ‘retro' night.

Yet, unlike most of the trends that sweep from east to west London, pop-ups and their close relative, the supper club, are popular because they move with the latest fashion. It doesn't matter if we're digging out the leg-warmers and shoulder pads, or if we're back to vintage tea dresses and leather elbow patches; the chefs, the designers, the immersive actors and the barmen continue to pop up in random locations across London ready to feed and entertain.

At Donatina's Kitchen, we've fully embraced our pop-up-ness, and because our events are often for one night only, they are raucous, greedy, fun affairs. And that, we think, is why supper clubs are so popular. The best evenings rarely require you to sit up straight, and noise levels tend to rise well above the tinkling of silver and polite coughs.

In the past, we've thrown noisy ‘Scopa' nights during which our guests were taught the competitive southern Italian card game amid much bartering and, regrettably, some fairly obvious cheating.

To draw in the crowds, pop-up bars and restaurants in London must create some truly curious twists in a bid to entice jaded Londoners who have, quite frankly, seen it all. Want to eat your supper off a semi-naked lady? Drink champagne on a double-decker bus? Or eat your dinner in a disused train carriage? Down cocktails at an après-ski party on a rooftop in the middle of London? Done, done, done and done.

We particularly love Gingerline's quirky, immersive events. Who wouldn't want to be led by the hand by a fully-grown man dressed up as a wood nymph to a secret grotto where you can write down all your wishes halfway through dinner? Nobody takes as much pleasure one-upping their colleagues in the search for the craziest night quite as much as Londoners do.

There is little doubt that pop-ups have found their home here in London, catering nicely to the world's shortest attention spans. And while the best of them – those that partner the best of cooking and that essential twist – are here today and gone tomorrow, they'll never truly disappear.

Our next event is in a former dairy yard and is in collaboration with a distillery so expect cocktails, drawing on the walls, a traditional three course Neapolitan Sunday feast, and a tour of London's only distillery. Oh, and we've had our very own – extremely delicious and even more potent - limoncello made for the event.

If you have uncovered a secret supper club or pop-up bar or restaurant in London recently, share your thoughts using the Facebook comment box below.

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Loved

"My Gulascheintopf war perfekt and so was the Weissbier. I was in Kingston Steins. I do have a few suggestions for decor and table. 1. you need a little jar of toothpicks on the table to get meat out from..." Which venue is this?

Hated

"I visited browns alone after work and got convinced to spend an hour in the “VIP” room with Jennifer - which is just a corner of the private dance area - no privacy at all. I essentially paid £500 for..." Which venue is this?

This week's faves

  1. Sunset Strip (W1)
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  3. Freemasons Arms (NW3)
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  6. Reun Thai (W6)
  7. Nanban (SW9)
  8. Bucket (W2)
  9. 2 Brydges Place (WC2)
  10. Red Rooms (WC2)

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