Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Speed dating supper clubs take romance offline, could they be the end of dating apps?

14/02/2023

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman

05m read

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Let’s face it, everyone’s bored of dating apps now. 

‘We just need to meet people in person,’ friends and I have regularly told each other. ‘What we really need is a big old dinner party filled with everyone’s eligible mates’.

Enter south-east London pizza legends, Dinner for One Hundred. 

Yup, it was always a pipe dream we were too lazy to organise, but then the lads behind Telegraph Hill pizzeria and some of the capital’s finest pop-ups decided to do all the leg-work for us, presenting a singles supper club to their loyal customers – and just in time for Valentine’s, too. 

READ MORE: 21 Valentine’s takeaway ideas for the ultimate night in 

The idea was a simple one: as with all their events, D4100 invited 100 people to come together and enjoy a three course meal cooked by some of London’s brightest chefs.

The catch was you had to be single to attend, and mingling was actively encouraged throughout the night (in fact, they promised to move you each course, and match you with like-minded daters). 

Now, you know how much we love flipping tradition on its head here at Twisted, so we were instantly intrigued by a concept which used food to do just that within the world of dating. As somebody who is painfully fed up with dating apps myself, I volunteered to give the concept a go.

Entering into things intrigued, excited and a little trepidatious, I wondered, ‘could singles supper clubs like this take dating offline for good?’ and more importantly, ‘would I meet a husband?’ 

Trying a singles supper club

Armed with a couple of wing women and an empty stomach, I arrived at the supper club feeling pretty hopeful. 

To give you some background, my Hinge fatigue has reached the point that you’ll rarely find me going on more than four or five dates a year, but tonight I was guaranteed at least three in one evening. You can’t argue with those odds, can you? 

My housemate and I did a quick sweep of the queue and we identified at least a couple of guys who caught our eye. 

Then, we were ushered into the trendy Hoxton Arches with drinks and canapés – three tables adorned with red tablecloths, roses and candles awaiting us. 

singles supper clubs dating london

Twisted’s senior writer tries a singles supper club (Credit: Twisted)

After ordering a bottle of wine for dutch courage and chatting to some friendly (albeit far too young) Scottish men by the bar, my friends and I said our goodbyes and set off to hunt for our assigned seats.

I was sat next to two very nice guys, neither of whom were really my type, but given that this was the starter, that didn’t really matter much, anyway. 

‘I’m gonna call this round the test run,’ I told myself, as I spooned goats cheese and roasted veg onto my plate. If I didn’t meet The One, at least I’d be fed by one of the chefs at Sessions Art Club.

The starter went by without a hitch, and thanks to a questionnaire sent out ahead of time, everyone busied themselves talking about their dream job should they win the lottery (running whale watching tours, if you’re asking) and their most embarrassing moment (which I’m not telling you). 

singles supper clubs dating london

The main course in full swing (Credit: Kai Jadwat)

After that, the ice was well and truly broken and I began to settle into things, even if the guy next to me did keep insisting I give him a review of the food (note to self, don’t tell somebody you’re a food writer on the first date, especially if they’re mates with the chef). 

As soon as the first course had been cleared away, a man with a microphone told us it was time to move seats. The main course meant venturing to meet the next date – or dates, as the case may be. 

As racks of Lebanese spiced lamb, fava bean puree and aubergines hit the table, it’s safe to say that people had found their stride. 

Not far from me was a guy who was just my type, but unfortunately, the girl next door seemed to be thinking the same thing. One thing I hadn’t considered when readying myself to date several men was that there would be other women doing the same. 

‘Here’s another hazard of supper club dating,’ I thought. ‘It’s every man for themselves.’

Not one to enter into a David Attenborough style peacocking match with a stranger, I decided to hold back, chatting to other people around me until, at a suitable moment, we caught each other’s eyes. 

You might think it was a love story from here, but the truth is, all hopes of a date were eventually shot when he told me he was recently single and ‘being naughty’ (ick). Still, it was fun to flirt between mouthfuls of fava beans. 

READ MORE: The biggest taboos when it comes to dinner dates

singles supper clubs dating london

The food surpassed any of my dates for the evening (Credit: Kai Jadwat)

If people had loosened up by the main course, by dessert and thereafter, they were on heat. Eyes burnt into your head as you talked to the person next to you, and by this point it was clear that many people felt they’d laid their claims. 

I won’t bore you with the chat I had after they brought out the polenta and lemon cake, but let’s just say it ended with the guy kissing someone in front of me and then asking to stay in touch (nope).

Yep, it’s fair to say that cupid wasn’t on my side during this particular supper club, but I got some funny stories out of it, nonetheless. 

Whilst I may not have left with anybody special, my conversations with others in attendance validated that the idea still had legs.

“Something felt more casual about this compared to a normal singles mixer,” one guy told me. “You’re here for the food as well as to date.” 

Meanwhile, another woman I was sat with said: “I’m just so over dating apps. This felt like the perfect opportunity to meet someone in real life.” 

On both counts, I’d be inclined to agree. 

Are singles supper clubs the future?

Dinner For One Hundred’s event was the first to fall on my radar, but after doing some digging, it turns out speed dating supper clubs have been trying to creep onto the dating scene for quite some time. 

All the way back in 2018, chef Nina Parker briefly brought out a similar supper club called Chez Nina in the capital, which ended up collaborating with dating app Bumble, offering those who had matched a chance to dine amongst others at her home. 

More recently, The Dinner Club has offered everything from black tie balls to cosy pub lunches for singles up north, and London supper club Gooce currently promotes a similar format to D4100’s, but with smaller groups at each sitting.

singles supper clubs dating london

People could leave notes for the one they fancied (Credit: Kai Jadwat)

READ MORE: Try Twisted’s harissa spaghetti meatballs this Valentine’s 

Of course, it’s inevitable that not everybody will meet a partner at a singles supper club, in the same way that every first date doesn’t work out. 

But despite my bad luck, I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at events like this becoming more mainstream.

Clinical psychologist Dr Marianne Trent explains: “Speed dating with food can give useful structure for the date as if things get tricky you can always talk about the food. 

“[Plus], when we eat food we enjoy then our feel good hormone dopamine is released which [can] make a food based first date a great idea – just be careful not to eat with your mouth full and curb the urge to ask if you’ve got any parsley in your teeth!”

Explaining what prompted them to get on the hype, Jake, co-founder of Dinner For One Hundred says: “From day dot we’ve always been about bringing people together and wanted every dinner to feel like a wedding.

“We’d always finish our event descriptions with ‘you might meet the love of your life’, so this year as our next dinner was in February we wanted to go all out on that tagline, and give [people] as big a chance as possible.

“What’s the one thing couples do most? They go out to eat. So if you have a good time over your first meal together, you’re in the best starting point possible.”

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