Hallowe’en Dinner in the Dark

“Value for money: excellent. Food: delicious. Atmosphere: lovely. Entertainment: also delicious”. HELEN JAMESON reviews Dinner in the Dark.

Dinner in the Dark: did what it said on the tin. Presented with a fully-lit church on arrival, we began to ponder the meaning of “darkness”, and then came the switch-off. The atmosphere in that church hall changed with the click of the light-switch: suddenly encased in darkness, the room was all circles of glowing, smiley faces lit only by table tea-lights. The table décor (black roses, chic huh?) was beautiful in the dim light, despite the fact the pyromaniacs couldn’t resist the temptation of the combination of table decs + naked flame.

The meal itself cost us a tenner. Starters were Kenyan: a plate of chapattis with a ground peanut sauce – a great dish for sharing. The sauce was DELICIOUS, but there wasn’t enough of it for the eight of us at the table, and the chapattis were cleaned up pretty quickly. Mains: also a beaut of a dish, but again not enough of it. I wished the Nepalese Dal Bhat lentil curry had a bit more of a kick to it, but I appreciate there were a range of tastes to satisfy. Waiting time in between courses reached almost an hour, but there were 100 mouths to feed and each dish did arrive at the table piping hot. Until this point I’d been mildly impressed by the evening: it had been pleasant and the novelty of the darkness had staved off complaints about waiting for food. But then…but then!

Admittedly I am a pudding girl: you don’t have to try very hard to impress me with anything if it’s sweet. I was excited about dessert anyway but did not expect the sheer ferocity of the next dish. Yep, it was fierce. The Bornean (sounds wrong but I looked it up) pineapple and coconut ice-cream were given a hefty sprinkling of coconut shavings which had been soaked (well, drenched) in Malibu. The refreshing zing of the pineapple was impressive enough, but coupled with the softness of the ice cream (which had been allowed to go a bit melty – I prefer it this way) and the heat that followed as that Malibu trickled down my throat, this proved to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Checking myself (I was about to lick my plate), I went and bugged the girls in the kitchen for seconds and finished the evening on a double-foodgasm.

Dinner in the Dark awkwardly interrupted by a flash

Dinner in the Dark awkwardly interrupted by a flash

At this point, when everyone’s wine and boozy pudding had carried them into a lovely mellowness, unexpected live entertainment was provided by a beautiful man on guitar with an equally beautiful voice. I was enjoying the end to the evening so much, with the room still in candlelight and a twinkly feeling inside (that may have just been the vino, but I’ll give the organisers some credit), that when beautiful-man finished his set and began to put his guitar away I heard heckles of “ONE MORE SONG” and “PLEASE DON’T STOP I LOVE YOU”. Realising this was me, I put the lid back on my wine bottle and took a seat with friends to listen to the obliging man sing another tune.

I zig-zag-cycled home happily fed and (over-)watered, glad to have spent my Hallowe’en at Dinner in the Dark. My only criticism of the food is that I wanted more of it and quicker. All round a really great way to raise money for three awesome charities (The Moving Mountains Trust, Against Malaria & The Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre). Speaking to Jess (organising) at the end of the night, figures looked to be in excess of £700, and Amy’s efforts on the people-decorating table raised a grand £10.50 too.

Value for money: excellent. Food: delicious. Atmosphere: lovely. Entertainment: also delicious. To quote Sara Stilwell, President of Cambridge Hub, “I think I’m in love!!” Well done guys, a fab start to the Cambridge Ethical Festival.