I was recently put in charge of organising a night out for a massive group of friends – a task which I initially approached with pure arrogance. Yeah, this’ll be easy. Pre-drinks, dinner, more drinks, after-drinks and a club. Then, I realised it was like trying to organise a school trip, but with booze. So many issues arose: which location would suit everyone, where to meet first, which restaurant serves awesome food without a refined atmosphere… we wanted to eat somewhere which had a party vibe without resorting to a TGI Friday’s. Organising this was a complete nightmare.
Then, Lock-in Lunch was born and in it’s conception, solved every dilemma ever related to organising a big, boozy meal-slash-drinks-slash-club night out with mates, because Lock-in Lunch is pre-drinks, dinner, after-drinks and a club all in one. My prayers had been answered.
I’m going to be honest; I was skeptical. This was a really fine balance to achieve. We wanted a dinner with really good food without being accompanied by a string quartet and silver service. We wanted lively pre-drinks with decent music without getting hammered drunk before 4pm and peaking too soon. We wanted an after-party which transitioned perfectly from the sit-down dinner to a full-on all-nighter. I mean …we wanted the impossible. Surely?
No. Lock-in Lunch was everything I just described. There are so many awesome qualities to this concept, but possibly one of the greatest is that not only does it all unfold in one location (so there aren’t any freezing, drunken stumbles from bar-to-bar which break up the party) but it’s the fact that the location is really central and beyond perfect to tick every box we were looking for.
Devonshire Square, right next to Liverpool Street. Basically on your doorstep, this is a huge courtyard with a clear roof built over the six-storey buildings which surround it. You feel like you’re indoors, but you’re kind of outdoors. It’s very naughty. This was where the pre-drinks started. Beers, prosecco, bellinis and wines were passed around whilst easy house was spun, creating a vibesy start to the night. Everyone soon got well into the mood. In under an hour, the area was filled with about seventy Lock-in Lunch goers. Next, comes the dinner.
Everyone in attendance sits down at once, together, to eat at the same time. It means you all feel like you’re one big party, even though you’re on separate tables with your mates. It creates this amazingly unique atmosphere of togetherness, as everyone filed in to take their seats at their tables, which each displayed the hosts’ name in a little plaque. Nice touch. I wasn’t sure how this whole ‘sitting down at once’ idea would work, but by this point, with my game face on and a prosecco in my hand, I was fully on-board. Lock-in Lunch was working. 100%.
This is where things got really sexual. Boozy group dinners with friends don’t have to be tacky and crass and Lock-in Lunch perfectly demonstrated the marrying of incredible food with infectious party vibes. This is because the restaurant we’ve all just moved into is Hix City; the culinary infant of non-other than highly-acclaimed British chef Mark Hix. For the love of God. Cue one of the best meals we’d all had in ages. The juicy, meaty lamb chops with fresh mint sauce. The perfectly cooked, lightly battered fish and chips. The intensely flavoursome Bocaddon farm veal. Everything we ordered, we shared and enthused over. Tables next to us ordered full roast chickens which arrived at the table hanging from a skewer by their top legs, to be impressively carved and dissected by wait staff in front of hungry party guests. The whole operation – of serving and feeding the entire restaurant at the same time – was, somehow, carried out flawlessly.
All the while, the tunes rolled on. As we indulged in ridiculous foods, an incredibly infectious playlist of carefully collated tracks filled the room. It was unintrusive but really, really catchy. Ranging from house to disco to soul, it started in the sixties and brought us up to the present day, which is when our dining time ceased and we were ready to continue with the drinking into the wee small hours.
And so we did.
I calculated that the journey from my restaurant seat to the after-party took me a grand total of twelve seconds. Turns out Hix City has a bar in the basement, with a wicked sound system, booths, a low ceiling and a wide selection of spirits. We were ushered down to the bar where the night continued. At least, I think it did. Apparently it went on until three in the morning. I remember being surprised by the size of the bar – it had about six booths and a good sized dance floor. Everyone fitted in there comfortably without being over crowded. It was the perfect capacity. Shots went round. Tunes went round. Unfortunately for me, a camera also went round. The night was hilarious, brilliant, so much fun and perfect. It’s the ideal way of planning the ultimate group night out – or, rather, “planning”, I should say, seeing as it involved zero planning on my part. Weirdly, I would almost definitely use Lock-in Lunch again if ever I had to plan another birthday or hen night or reunion because it involved minimum input and maximum return. I say ‘weirdly’, because you’d have thought we rinsed all we could from the event, that it’s a one-time thing, but I would 100% use this to take the strain out of getting a group of mates together again. If only I could remember how the hell I got home.
Next event: Saturday 6th June 2015
For bookings visit http://www.lockinlunch.co.uk/