The dining industry is always looking for new ways to hook us into eating out. From restaurants in the sky to chef’s tables, dining concepts continue to rise (and fall) in a bid to catch our interest in the competitive world of food. A new one that’s sprung up in Joburg is DinnerTimeStories SA, which is described as follows:
“A mind-blowing, innovative, unique, internationally acclaimed, gastronomic experience full of never-before-seen-in-SA tabletop projected fun and surprises.
The mood, music, table patterns, props and decoration all change with the chapters of the story, promising to immerse you in the most eye-catching ‘meal’ you will ever see – guaranteed!”
It’s a six-course meal where an animated story starring a small chef, called Le Petit Chef, is projected on to your table from a projector installed in the ceiling above.
Le Petit Chef travels all over the world, discovering new cuisine from the likes of India, China and the Himalayas as he goes.
With every new course, the waiters change hats and new, ostentatiously themed crockery and props are brought to your table. As part of our package, there were even fire and belly dancers thrown into the mix to entertain diners while they ate.
The concept was created by two Belgian artists, Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck, and has been brought over to South Africa by Paul Rouessart. Quartermain Faircity Hotel resident chef Tristan Latouf heads the gastronomic preparations.
The novelty of it
Adults, in many ways, are still like kids. We love anything new and we love a gimmick.
Being ushered into a magnificent dining hall with no idea what to expect is very thrilling.
The anticipation of what each meal will present is really fun, and it’s also an amazing conversation creator.
During my experience, my husband and I sat at a table where we didn’t know anyone next to us, but the #Stories concept was so entertaining that it loosened the atmosphere immediately. I can see this working wonderfully for corporate events or business lunches.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Some of the food
While the food was generally good, the problem was the ambition of the concept. Each course is supposed to come from a different region – meaning the chef is cooking up disparate cuisines from all over the world.
The Chinese course was okay but not great – you can get much better pot stickers from an actual Chinese restaurant – while the falafel presented during the ‘Arabic’ course was nothing to write home about.
I will say, the lamb curry during the Indian segment was quite tasty, as was the crème brûlée right at the end. But it irked me that there was no South African course.
I hope the #DinnerTimeStories animators can conjure something up for us next time!
For some reason, I really hate when waiters or serving staff are made to wear silly headgear when they’re working. At one point all the DinnerTimeStories servers had to come out wearing pink earmuffs. But maybe I’m just being annoyingly white and liberal now, so I’ll stop.
HOW TO BOOK
Tickets can be booked via Computicket, with adult entry costing R1 225 (R1 450 with wine) and R975 for children aged between eight and 12.
The dinner experience runs from Thursdays to Saturdays.
There are also afternoon shows that take place on the weekend. Vegetarian, halaal-friendly and kosher-friendly options with or without seafood are also available on request.