Dirty Dining // The White Hart // Stokey: …Uhh, yeah. It’s as messy as it sounds.


Dirty Dining: Silver service it isn’t.

Sometimes we find ourselves reviewing the latest ‘movement’ or ‘trend’ in London and it’s so surreal or ridiculous, we have to sit back and take stock on what the hell we’re doing with our lives. This was one of those moments. Except instead of ‘taking stock’, we were covered in it.

Stock, sauce, juices, bones, fish guts. We felt stripped of our once-dignified selves and had instead been reduced to trying to eat sloppy, spicy salsa cupped in our hands like we were Bear Grylls knelt at a riverside in some desperate plight for survival.

London. This is Dirty Dining.

As dubbed ‘Not for the faint of hearted’ by, well, ourselves really, this new approach to scoffing is separating the men from …those with standards. The concept involves paying your money, rallying together a group of equally unprincipled friends, sitting in a well-posh pub and eating overly messy and seriously lubricious foods …without cutlery.

“Why the hell would anyone ever do that?” …Is the question I’ve been posed with countless times since my attendance. “Why not?” …is pretty much all I can come up with.

It turned out to be an all-round hilarious night. Plus, we weren’t just served bowls of baked beans, Bolognese and gravy whilst an amused chef looked on in hilarity; the food in question was actually seriously tasty. The menu consisted of beautifully fresh oysters, well-presented squid sliders, giant sauce-slathered onion rings and spicy Bloody Mary cocktails.

Whilst in the midst of smugly musing over our well-maintained clean mits, a waitress menacingly strutted up to our table and slammed a platter which seemed about the same size of a car bonnet onto our table. The realisation that we’d merely endured the starters thus far suddenly dawned on us as our assertively-served main course arrived.

In no way do I exaggerate when I say this was a mountain of food. So huge was this incline, we had to limber up and do stretches before embarking on our journey. There was even an oxygen shortage at the top -or maybe we’d just eaten too much. Mountain references aside, it included langoustines, meat balls, tender marinated chicken thighs, corn bread, soft-shelled crabs and whole potatoes which we eventually resorted to eating in our hands like apples because by that point all inhibitions had gone out the window. This Everest was smothered in a thick layer of salsa which we delved through like starved dogs. It was surprisingly easy to get into the swing of eating like depraved cannibals and it wasn’t long before we didn’t really recognise ourselves and what we’d become. That said, the food was delicious and the experience was highly amusing. Plus, we were all in the same boat so no one was judging. So, in the spirit of getting messy with your mealtimes, we’ve compiled a how-to which should persuade you that Dirty Dining is well worth getting involved with…

Our tips for Dirty Dining:

-Females shouldn’t attend said event having had a fresh manicure unless they’re so dissatisfied by the results, they want to destroy their nails in the most disgusting way possible

-Males with mature beards should be aware that they are, in effect, sporting a giant hairy chin-bib. Your meal’s gonna get all up in that facial topiary, guaranteed.

-On a diet? You’re about to eat and drink Free Willy’s body weight in booze and meat: Abort the plan. Run for the nearest exit and keep running -you might as well. You’re on a diet.

-Take a parent along! You can watch their inner turmoil as they struggle to refrain from scolding you with all those classic generic parental instructions such as ‘don’t lick your fingers’, ‘stop using your hands to eat your food’, ‘where are your manners?’ etc, etc…

-Do not attend Dirty Dining straight after work in your office attire unless you’re then going to a late fancy dress party where the theme is ‘Characters from American Psycho’.

-If you’re going to wear anything white to Dirty Dining (as one member of our group did), ensure you’ve got a good hand washing stain-removal solution at home and remember to press-and-lift the stain, don’t rub.

Do not attend Dirty Dining with a date unless:

-You have absolutely no shame regarding table manners

-You have absolutely no shame regarding personal presentation / hygiene / general cleanliness

-Your date happens to be a farm animal

Dirty Dining runs on the first Wednesday of every month at The White Hart pub on Stoke Newington High Street and will cost you £30 per head for more food than you can ever eat. You’ll be provided with a doggy-bag at the end to take food home with you. No, really. For updates, follow @WhiteHartStokey on Twitter.

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