Paying full-price for you dinner? Boring! A new pop-up lets you play poker to determine your bill. Time Out’s own high-roller Guy Parsons went to try his hand
‘A bit of a gamble’ isn’t usually considered an endorsement for a restaurant, but there’s a Hackney pop-up that may be an exception. All-In Kitchen is dishing up in the converted Haggerston railway arch Trip Space Kitchen. It offers a three-course menu from Stoke Newington chefs Jones & Sons, which would normally set you back £50. But there’s a gimmick. All-In is run by PokerStars, and if you play your cards right, you can eat for nothing.
At the start of the evening, you’re given 10,000 points’ worth of chips. You play three hands of pre-dinner poker. If you finish with less than 5,000 points, you have to pay the full (but still bargainous) £10 for dinner. End on more than 5,000, and you’ll dine for just £5. But if you finish with 10,000 points or more, your meal – full of puntastic dishes like ‘Four of a Kind’ (lamb done four ways) – is free! After a handful of dates in London, the pop-up will tour the country to promote the UK and Ireland Poker Tour.
I’m given a seat at the poker table with five other plucky players, and my chips. The good news is I only need to finish with what I started to get my dinner for free. The bad news is the moment play commences, any strategy I may have had to ensure this is overwhelmed by my desire to make big, ballsy bets and see my enemies crushed. Which ends in disaster. Left with 5,000 points – enough to bag the £5 deal – I fold my terrible cards and quit while I’m ahead. Or at least not as far behind as I could be.
If you’re a card sharp, the odds are in your favour; even if you’re clueless, a risk-averse approach will almost certainly see you dine for a fiver or less. Pretty incredible value, then, given how hearty the meal is. We got so much food that by the end I was ready to fold for good.
All-In Kitchen Trip Space Kitchen, Acton Mews, E8 4DG. Tue Jan 20, Wed 21, Mon 26, Tue 27. Free.
The event is currently ‘sold out’, but more tickets will be released tomorrow, Jan 21, at 9:30am: timeout.com/allin.