Murder mystery; it is a genre of book, party and dinner that is so utterly ingrained in the British character…and I am a total sucker for it! So, when I read about Murder Express, I jumped at the chance to get dressed up and join in the fun!
What is Murdér Express?
Murder Express is a fine example of what we call an “immersive dining experience”. Part theatre show, part fine dining and part interactive game, these are my favourite kind of night out. During the evening you will get to watch a show unfolding around your dining table, as you are served course after course of super tasty food.
The creators of Murder Express and other fun-filled dining experiences The Greatest Snowman and Journey to the Underworld, Funicular Productions was created in 2018 by a group of talented and entrepreneurial friends. Their debut show Murder Express is the one that we attended in March 2019. They have just announced a sequel, Murdér Express: Jewel of the Empire that runs from May 2019. Read on to get a 15% discount code. An excuse to go back methinks!
The Murdér Express Experience
Walking up the darkened street, we worried that we wouldn’t find the venue. However, just a few steps up Pedley Street, “Pedley Street Station” heaves into view. The facade fits perfectly into the railway arches it is housed in.
A chap outside the door pointed us through the doors, sporting a ‘To The Trains’ sign and my tummy began to flutter with elation. As I said, I am a total sucker for this kind of thing so I was far too excited.
We were welcomed in, our names checked and our coats checked in for free. A ticket was given to us stating that we were to be sitting at table 8 for the evening. As we turned the corner we were surprised and delighted to see the train right in front of us!
Travel trunks and other station bric-a-brac lined the walls and the train steamed in preparation for departure. We were on platform 7 and ready for the evening’s entertainment…but first, a drink.
The 7 Sins
The bar was never too busy and so we didn’t have to wait for our aperitif. I opted for The Conductor (you are always going to win me over with bubbles and elderflower). It was fresh and zingy with a little raspberry floating in it. Mr Fluskey went for the Dark and Steamy (see what they did there?!). He said that it was delicious and pleasingly strong for the price. The drinks aren’t cheap at £9 a pop, but we think that the strength and size meant they were worth the money. If I was looking to save some pennies, I’d have ordered the sparkling rosé. Well, we were on a train to France!
The conductor (that’s the character, not the cocktail) poked their head out from the train and gave us a ten-minute warning. I dashed off to the toilets to try and avoid leaving midway through the performance. Even the toilets had a great level of detail with cool old posters dotted around to look at.
As I emerged from the bathroom, I noticed someone had really gone all out on their costume. He was carrying a suitcase and looked around shiftily. Oh, he was in the show. As we walked away, another character entered and we got our first taste of the show to come. We even got a chance to talk to some of the characters and learn a little about them and their back story. This is why I thought a drink was a good plan.
All Aboard the Murdér Express
Ticket in hand, we climbed the stairs into the carriage. It was much larger than expected which was a pleasant surprise. I was worried we would be elbowing each other all night. We were shown to our table, which we had to ourselves and took in the surroundings. The carpet was suitably loud and every table had a little lamp on it. It really was like a bygone era of rail travel. It might be the closest we ever get to the Orient Express.
Whilst we’re talking about trains, why not read all about our travels riding the rails around the world!
The tables are designed to fit six diners and so you may be sharing with some new friends, but it is all part of the fun. At each table, the ‘window’ is a large screen onto which the passing landscape is projected. As the venue is in a railway arch, the real passing trains overhead will make the floor wobble a tiny bit from time to time, adding to the effect.
The Murdér Express Dinner
When we boarded the Murder Express the menu was designed by BBC MasterChef winner in 2016, Jane Devonshire. Previously they have had their culinary delights created by the two runners up from 2016, Jack Layer and Billy Wright. For 2021 Louise Ellis (BBC MasterChef The Professionals finalist 2017) has curated the menu. I wonder which MasterChef they have lined up to take on the task for the next incarnation?!
But back to the food that we had during the show:
The meal started with bruschetta topped with edamame bean, chilli a little tomato and pea shoots. The bean puree with chilli was so incredibly moreish. Had Mr Fluskey not paid any attention I’d have eaten his too. My only issue was that the bread wasn’t that crisp. The end bent when I picked it up, which led to a little green blob plopping onto my dress.
The next dish was a celebration of Indian spice and cauliflower. I have no idea what the crispy leaves were around the dish but they were so, so good. The sauce across the cauliflower was wonderfully aromatic and there was even a cauliflower leaf that seemed candied to add a little sweetness. This was demolished!
Our menu says lamb three ways. Now, I am not a chef but I will try to explain it.
- A slice of slow-cooked lamb that was so tender that no knife was required.
- A stack with potato slices…so a lamb gratin? It had a nice crispy top which contrasted nicely with the soft potato and meat below.
- A lamb chop which was the least exciting of the three, but still good.
Served with this were some veggies. The asparagus wasn’t very crisp but the tomatoes and courgette were splendid. Around the whole thing was a salty, slightly spicy harissa, olive and tomato sauce. I had never had lamb with harissa before and it was packed with flavour. I think that every dish on this menu was a little flavour bomb, and I love that.
Finally, we tucked into an incredibly moist polenta cake with apricot inside, topped with ice cream and surrounded by apricot pieces. Running through the whole dish was apricot brandy and ginger flavours. Plus, the super thin brandy snap on the side was a lovely bit of crunch. Top notch!
The Murdér Express Performance
Now, this is a tricky one. I really don’t want to give too much away so I am going to use some wild generalisations.
There are certain rules that a good murder mystery must adhere to and Murder Express sticks faithfully and charmingly to these rules;
- A backdrop that is cut off from the public, leaving only a set number of suspects
- Give everyone a motive for the murder
- Indulge in a little red-herring
- Come to a conclusion
Well, that is pretty much all I can say. You are on a train, anyone could have done it and throughout the dinner, all will be revealed with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
We enjoyed the performance immensely. Each of the actors performed with gusto. They come and sit with you a for a minute or two between the scenes and it’s an opportunity for you to do some sleuthing, asking questions. It is always slightly terrifying when you are spoken to by a character but they were generous with their time and friendly if we didn’t know what to ask.
If you are thinking of booking a night on the Murder Express, here is some information you might like to know:
- You can see the trailer HERE
- You can book tickets through Design My Night HERE
- Pedley Street is in East London. The closest stations are Bethnal Green Underground (Central & District Lines), Bethnal Green overground, Shoreditch High Street overground and Whitechapel Underground (Hammersmith & City Line).
- If you are coming from Bethnal Green, bear in mind that any Google Maps route that goes through a park might not be open at night.
- Dietary requirements can be catered for.
- You can get 15% off Funicular’s Murdér Express: Jewel of the Empire before May 3rd, by using discount code JEWEL15
We had a lovely evening at Murder Express and would happily see every one of Funicular’s shows. Their energy and wit entertained us whilst their yummy food filled and satisfied us. What an exciting way to travel to Murder(!)
This post was written in collaboration with Funicular Productions but all opinions are our own and the plates, almost licked clean, speak for themselves!