A secret is something you tell everybody to tell nobody.
Every now and then we stumble upon something quite special in Liverpool. It’s a shame, in a sense, that we have to remove a degree of what makes it so special in the first place by making it public but this is too good not to talk about. Imagine this scenario; you’re greeted at Lime Street station by a mysterious male and passed a one way ticket that has ‘Edge Hill Station’ on. How very Harry Potter. You then board the train dumbfounded and when you do arrive at the disused train station you’re greeted by waiters and waitresses in a beautiful alcove of exposed brick for a night of fine dining. This is just a glimpse into Liverpool’s Secret Dining Club, an experience for all senses and a huge step in the right direction for Liverpool’s food and drink scene.
We met up with the three guys behind the magic to find out how it started, their plans for the future and more.
What is the Secret Diners Club?
Secret Diners Club is a unique dining concept and event created by myself and Daniel Heffy, and later joined by Joe Earnshaw.
Our Secret Diners Club events take place in unique and unconventional locations around Liverpool city centre, which remain undisclosed to our guests right up until the day of the event.
We also keep the menu a secret and throughout the meal guests are encouraged to interact and guess the courses on blank menus handed out at the start of service; once the dessert is served, the real menu is handed out and guests compare and debate their answers with fellow diners.
How did it come about and what is your role in the company?
Daniel and I met a few years back when we were working at London Carriage Works. As you’ve probably guessed, we’re both extremely passionate about food and dining in general, and we’d both always wanted to create an exciting dining experience for food lovers in Liverpool.
It wasn’t long before we started putting on our Secret Diners Club events around the city and they’ve just continued to grow and grow.
We met Joe Earnshaw last year, whose background is in PR and marketing, and he jumped on board and has helped us spread the word about Secret Diners Club across Liverpool.
This is such an exciting concept for fine dining, do you think this could be the start of something in Liverpool?
The food and drink scene in Liverpool is amazing at the moment and so it’s great to hear people say that our dining events are adding another exciting dimension to it.
Like ourselves, I think that fewer restaurants and bars are continuing to follow traditional dining guidelines and rules. White tablecloths and ironed napkins are no longer a must and people are focusing on how they can make their own dining experience different from the next restaurant on the street. This is exactly what we are trying to do.
We love fine dining but feel that there is sometimes too much of a rigid framework that is followed. We’ve kept the high quality, fine dining food and drink, however by taking people out of their comfort zone and popping up Secret Diners Clubs in unconventional settings, it seems to give birth to a fresher and more vibrant experience.
For your last event you took people to a disused train station, any more crazy plans on the card?
Definitely! It was great to take people out to Metal Works, the stunning event space at Edge Hill Station.
Our guests at that event were actually kept in the dark about that location right up until they met Joe at Lime Street Station and were handed their tickets to Edge Hill, the world’s oldest passenger train station, so the atmosphere on train to the event was electric!
We’ve got very ambitious plans for Secret Diners Club and as the events are becoming more popular, these crazy ideas that were once a pipedream are starting to become realistic! Obviously as they’re a secret we can’t say too much about them but we’re all looking forward to unveiling our future locations.
We’re also open to suggestions so if anyone has a space or location that they think we’ll be interested in, get in touch!
What is the kind of food you create and what is your history with food?
Daniel and I both studied and learnt our culinary trade at Liverpool Community College, however at different times and as I said earlier, we met whilst working at London Carriage Works. Daniel’s currently learning his trade under the legendary Paul Askew at The Art School and I’m working at the brilliant Italian Club Fish.
When curating the menu for our events we always take into account the location.
For example, as the last event took place within a train station, we focused on the import and export trade. It was not possible for everyone across Britain to enjoy fish and chips until the railway infrastructure was built as there was no way of transporting it on mass, quickly from the coast. Therefore we felt we had to do our own twist on fish and chips for our fish course, which was a beautiful dish of cod loin, crispy cod skin, shrimp, salt cod and pancetta croquette.
We also treated guests to coffee and treacle infused ham hock, a starter of confit duck leg and egg ravioli and a beer braised daube of beef with a langoustine bisque sauce as main.
To find out how you could get tickets to the secret diners club you have to be following them on Twitter and Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about future events. We’d wish them luck but something tells us they won’t need it.