Dinerama, worth the drama?

James Neish tells you what’s good and isn’t at Dinerama.

Find out about the best grub, prices and tips.

I arrive at Dinerama on a relatively sunny and warm day (for March)  My plan is to tour the various levels, have something to eat and meet some friends later.  What I didn’t plan was on spending so much money – but once there the experience soaked me in!

This is a great place with a very special vibe, but it’s not cheap. The first trick is to arrive before 7pm to avoid the £3 entry fee.  Arriving early also means you miss some of the queues – because you will probably, like me, want a selection of food from different stalls you don’t want to spend an entire night standing in lines.

It’s a labyrinth of bars and food stalls and there is something for everyone.  Everything is cooked right there in front of your very eyes … from the pizza staff who twirl a round base and toss it in the air with Italian flair before popping it into the oven, to the Prawnography stall who prepare your prawns in a way that resembles a firefighter merging with Jamie Oliver. (Watch our video below).

It’s an experience to watch, and the food is served warm (I always find this a bonus since I normally complain in buffets that the food is not hot enough) but it will certainly cost you.  £7 for a duck burger from Duck’N Roll (that’s without chips) and £8 for two king prawns ajillo (with garlic).  It’s not the traditional prawn ajillo dish you would expect.  Street food is served as you would expect on cardboard plates (hence why I found it slightly pricey).  Bar prices though were reasonable and very average when compared with other London bars.

This is a place for friends and/or families to come together and if you organise yourselves in small groups and all bring something to the table I think it can be a better fun experience.  Be prepared to stand though as the main tables quickly fill up.  This too can be very much a social encounter and there are long tables and smaller ones dotted around the place that are shared by everyone.

The stalls operate like clock-work.  As you enter the main hall there is a feeling of open air (even though you are indoors).  There are upstairs bars. Unfortunately, Winerama which I was really looking forward to visiting was hosting a private party – but there’s always a next time because once you try it you definitely think there’s at least one friend out there that you will want to tell about this and it’s the perfect opportunity to come back.

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