A dreamy dinner experience

"The Dreamers" at 1.TH is a theatre dinner on a high plane – intimate, immersive and mouthwateringly excellent.

I’m not a huge fan of expensive restaurants. Though many, the portions are often small, and I end up drinking too much wine and water and scoffing bread like there’s no tomorrow. The food, even if it’s excellent, often can’t live up to being centre stage for a long evening of sitting in a chair.

So restaurants that offer more than food are more my sort of thing. 1.TH, in central Copenhagen near Nyhavn, is one of them. The show is called The Dreamers, created by Mette Martinussen, which starts as soon as guests arrive in the entryway to the building on Herluf Trollesgade. A woman in her 60s appears from within the building, dressed smartly in dark clothing. She eyes us with a half smile, then sets off out of the building. The guests are paired up and given an umbrella to share, hanging within it a small speaker. House of Cards actor Lars Mikkelsen narrates a story as we follow the woman at a safe distance.

Try as I might, I couldn’t keep up with the many characters and complicated plot, and halfway around the block I turned to my companion and admitted as much. She laughed and admitted she’d stopped listening too.

At this stage I was worried. What if the rest of the night depends upon remembering a complicated plot involving a range of characters I’ve already failed to remember? I needn’t have worried, and I soon realised that Martinussen’s show is less about find out what happens, than about being put in a particular state of mind.

Upstairs we are seated at a long table, only about 14 of us. At one end is an open kitchen, where half a dozen staff are preparing the evening’s menu. At the other, another woman is seated in front of a dressing table mirror. Hanging beside her are a range of beautiful, extravagant and outrageous gowns and dresses. In front of her are dozens of bottles of perfumes and beauty products.

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The first course arrives: burnt potatoes, crispy corn, dried fennel, grilled corn with butter and smoked paprika. Then the next, marinated mullet, lime pickled melon, cucumbers, broad beans and ceviche sauce (below). And the third, Raw ox heart tomato, dried san marzano tomatoes, sitting atop a creamy sauce of mussels and browned butter.

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All were sublime. It was preparation, rather than cooking, tasty raw ingredients matched perfectly and harmonically. Of the three later courses, the squid with fried chanterelles, fennel bacon, pickled onions and dashi, was the real standout winner for balancing depth of flavour with a certain delicacy.

As for the theatre, well I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. It wasn’t what I was expecting, we weren’t made to watch long scenes and the unfolding of a drama. Between courses the mysterious woman would ask small groups of us for help and ask us difficult philosophical questions. “What is love and why do relationships fail?” she asked as we recommended which lipstick and nail polish she should put on. Later in the evening the elder woman returns, and takes us on an exploration through the building.

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This sort of immersive theatre isn’t for the easily embarrassed, but you don’t need to take it too seriously. There was plenty of laughter and joshing among the guests in the more awkward moments, which there were thankfully few. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We are used sitting in public at restaurants in our own little groups. But at this long table, we were made to interact and talk, discussing relationships, sex and identity, with people who, hours earlier, were mere strangers.

Heady from the wine and full from the food, I left enriched by the experience. M

The evening was provided courtesy of 1.TH.


By Peter Stanners

Co-founder and Editor-in-chief. Occasional photographer.

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