Subtly paying homage to some of DC universe’s most iconic heroes and villains, a 10 course tasting menu takes you on a culinary and visual journey with the help of floor-to-ceiling screens, 360-degree projections and more surprises. Truly a one-of-a-kind gastronomic show, carefully crafted staging and immersive courses create a brilliant feast to all the senses.
We caught up with Head Chef Karl O’Dell to find out more about this unique experience.
How did it all start?
James Bulmer, the founder and CEO of Park Row conjured up the idea over five years ago and approached Warner Bros. to license the DC brand and create a premium immersive dining experience. Never before has anyone attempted an elevated themed restaurant concept – so it’s great to be doing something so unique in the industry. We then spent most of lockdown fine tuning The Monarch Theatre, which sits within Park Row as a 20 seat restaurant, creating the menu and wonderment that goes alongside it.
Tell us about The Monarch Theatre 10 course tasting menu experience at Park Row
The Monarch is a floor-to-ceiling projection mapped room. Think a wrap-around cinematic projection on all four walls and a 20 seat table that is shared with guests in the middle of it. The Monarch Theatre is hugely important in DC lore as it was the location where Bruce Wayne’s parents met their demise. Now, in our story, Wayne Enterprises has invested millions in bringing the theatre back to life and using cutting edge technology, telling the story of the ‘Blurred Line’, the psychology of good vs evil.
Each of the ten courses represent a different character starting with the Super-Villains such as Joker, Scarecrow, and the Penguin, then moving into the blurred line characters such as Batman, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman before finishing on the Super Heroes, Wonder Woman and Superman. The content on the screens represents each of these characters of Gotham City without actually showing them on screen and this is also reflected in the food on the plate. Together with James, we’ve applied fine dining techniques to create the ultimate tasting menu with paired wines.
This is the world’s first fully-immersive DC-inspired experiential dining concept. Apart from the food, what other surprises can people expect?
Guests can expect dragon’s breath from nitro meringue, magic tricks, fear gas emanating from the table, levitating desserts and more.
Tell us about the drinks pairing experience
The drinks are paired expertly by Milena de Waele, head of wine at Park Row. We feature everything from cocktails through to a Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle and dessert wines. We also offer a non-alcoholic drinks pairing featuring the likes of de-alcoholised wines.
What about the interiors?
The guest first arrive into Park Row and are shown into The Monarch Theatre bar where they put a two-face coin into Chuckles the clown. He looks deep into your soul to see whether you are given a light or a dark cocktail before one of our narrators sets the scene and moves you into the main room to be seated for the experience.
What would you say to people who don’t typically choose tasting menus? Why are tasting menus better?
Tasting menus allow you to encourage new flavours and ingredients upon your guests and give you a taster of far more dishes than a typically three-course meal. Whilst portions are of course smaller, the opportunity to sample such a wide scope of dishes and still leave feeling full really makes a tasting menu such a great offer to guests. At a fine dining level, it really works well allowing you to have so much fun with presentation and tableware.
How important is sustainability when it comes to the provenance of ingredients?
Sustainability is hugely important, we do our best to source locally where possible.
Any future signature dishes you are working on currently that you can tell us about?
Watch this space, we are looking to evolve the Monarch next year, bringing in new characters and chapters which in turn mean exciting new dishes and surprises.
What do you like to cook at home?
I’m a sucker for a beef bourguignon as my fiancé is French.
Top 3 favourite restaurants in London?
Muse by Tom Aitkens, Core by Clare Smyth and Bibendum.
If you could award a Michelin star right now, who would it be to and why?
I would award a Michelin star to the team at Kiln, our neighbours on Brewer Street. The flavours they pack into their menu are absolutely stellar.
What is next in the culinary journey for you and The Monarch Theatre?
We are looking at some exciting new plans for The Monarch Theatre so watch this space!
To discover more, visit: parkrowlondon.co.uk/monarch-theatre
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All imagery courtesy of Park Row.