London has exploded in recent years with a whole host of dining experiences and supper clubs. Always on the lookout for ‘new ways to eat dinner’ apparently (see last year’s Twin Peaks experience for a start) Londoners have lapped these up and there seems to be no stopping them.
Django Bango Gold Rush are the latest posse to hitch their wagon to this train by laying on a Wild West themed dining experience in Vauxhall.
Keen readers of the site (hi mum!) will know that this is not Django Bango’s first rodeo. In fact the Django Bango team organised another immersive experience back in February 2016 where they constructed a whole Wild West themed pop-up town. While their endeavour was impressive to say the least, the result was… slightly less so, and one crotchety person (*waves*) gave it a not so awesome review.
However, now the Django Bango team are back with a new, smaller, more streamlined offering in the form of Django Bango Gold Rush: a five course dining experience sticking with the Wild West theme and immersive aspect. Amazingly, they invited us back again! And I’m very glad that they did.
Arriving at the venue address in Vauxhall on a Friday night we entered a small courtyard where we were instantly greeted by Trixy, an exuberant young man all in character, cracking jokes and sporting a cowboy hat and a pretty convincing Wild West accent. Trixy was to be our host for the night along with a small troop of other cowboys, and his friendly banter and laid-back charm set the tone for the rest of the evening of light-hearted fun.
Past the courtyard we found ourselves under the pitched roof of an open barn, which actually doubles as a metalworks during the day. Wooden tables are laid out with mismatched chairs and gingham tablecloths, strings of lights cross the ceiling and there’s even a little miniature train running leisurely up and down the length of the courtyard to add to the cowboy vibe. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and not that I want to bang on about their past event too much, but one of the issues I had previously was that I felt that the setting didn’t really fit that well with the Wild West theme. This time around though I didn’t have that problem at all and everything already felt much more natural.
Tables seat six people and it is kind of a communal feel so couples will need to be happy sharing their space with four strangers. The tables of people who were obviously made up entirely of friends seemed to be having an even better time than us though so I would round up your posse if you can.
To kick us off we ordered two cocktails from the pretty extensive drinks menu which seemed to be mixed by people in the know as both were delicious and very pretty looking. There is table service all night so no need to stand queuing at the bar for hours. You are free to just sit on your arse, supping your cocktails while you enjoy the sour dough toast with chipotle butter (which was awesome) and listen to the live country music in the form of Todd Sharpville and his piano.
Another very important aspect of the evening that I should mention before we get started is the ‘Gold Rush’ element: as part of the Wild West theme the barn should be seen as a gold mine, and Trixy informed us all that he had carelessly lost some of his gold coins throughout the mine… We were told to keep our eyes peeled for his gold all around us, even in our food, and if we found any we were to shout “I struck GOOOOLD!!” in our best cowboy accents. If you are lucky enough to find some gold you will be entered into a prize draw at the end of the evening so competition was fierce!
Anyway, enough of that, it was dinner time!
1sts: The Muffnut
The first of our five courses arrived in the shape of a ‘muffnut’, which I think is a cross between a muffin and a doughnut. Essentially it was a soft muffin topped with pulled pork and lots of tasty cheese sauce. I yummed it up in about five minute flat. A very good start!
2nds: Crocodile Tempura
Seriously getting down with the southern American vibe we were next presented with crocodile tempura. This was a new one for most of the people on our table but it all went down a treat and I think the general consensus was that the crocodile tasted a bit like a cross between chicken and fish. In a good way. You are only given three little nuggets each but they were good and crispy and came served a with great chilli jam. Plus, this is a five course menu so little and often is the key here.
By this point in the evening a handful of people had been fortunate enough to find gold coins lurking in their dinner and had tentatively shouted “I stuck gold!” to rounds of applause and encouragement from Trixy. It amused me to watch that as the night (and the booze) progressed these timid little voices became big, bellowing roars with the cowboy accents becoming even more ridiculous! It was great fun and as everyone began to relax more they got really into it.
3rds: 6 Hour roasted beef short rib
The main course of the night were these slow roasted beef short ribs, and they were GOOD eatin’! The ribs were so soft and tender and smothered in a delicious Buffalo Trace whiskey barbecue sauce with the homemade slaw adding a nice creamy crunch and contrast to the fatty, juicy meat. As good as any I have had in most restaurants. If I had to make one change, I would maybe offer something in the way of carbs here as well, like some cornbread or something? As by this point we were a few drinks in and some of my bigger, more manly compadres felt like they needed a bit more stodge.
4ths: smoked cajun sausage gumbo
Our final savoury course came in the form of this little pot of Gumbo served in cute individual casserole dishes. Essentially it was a mix of fresh veggies such as celery and okra, a few beans and some slices of smoked sausage, plus an arancini ball of rice stuffed with smoked cheese in the middle. They were smallish portions but I thought it was tasty and satisfying, even if the sauce was a little thin for my liking.
5ths: Rocky Road
Django Bango describe this dessert as ‘the rockiest road you’ll ever walk’. And they were not wrong. It was a a big fuck-off slab of rocky road topped with a quenelle of whipped cream. It was so big in fact that I even had trouble gouging spoonfuls of it to stick in my gob. Don’t worry though readers, I managed it! I thought it was ruddy great. I finished mine off and then my husband’s too.
As the night came to a close, gold rush fever reached it’s pinnacle as people were now full, satisfied, and a little bit tipsy so they really began to connect with their inner cowboy/cowgirl and get into the spirit of the evening. Trixy was great at geeing the crowd up and getting everyone involved, and even if we didn’t win big in the prize draw nobody minded. They all seemed quite content to sit under the stars and listen to the jolly plinky plonk of the piano whilst nursing their cocktails.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Although the menu was maybe not the best thing I have ever eaten, I was really impressed with how tasty the food was and the drinks were great too. I loved the interactions from Trixy and his gang which were fun but not overbearing and allowed you to eat your meal in some kind of peace. It somehow managed to be both relaxing and exciting at the same time. We happened to go a few weeks ago when the weather was still a bit cold and I did find myself a bit chilly in the evening, but I can imagine if we were to go now with these warm, balmy nights then sitting outside late into to the evening would be nothing short of a rootin tootin good time!
If you’re looking for a fun, different dinner experience that doesn’t take itself too seriously then be sure to stop by Django Bango Gold Rush this summer. Tip your hat to Trixy and drink a whiskey for me, partner.
Django Bango Gold Rush runs every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer until 1st October 2016. Tickets cost £37.10 and are available here.