In 2019, Mamma Mia! The Party, a new immersive dining experience opened up at The 02. Inspired by the film Mamma Mia! and based on the book by Calle Norlén and Anders Lundin (adapted to English by Sandi Toksvig (The Great British Bake Off), guests can enjoy a wonderful night full of ABBA music, laughter and traditional Greek food at the taverna which is owned by Nikos (Javier Rasero) and his family in Skopelos, Greece where the film was shot.
We also follow a love story between Nikos’ daughter Konstantina (Noah Sinigaglia): from his first marriage and his second wife Kate’s (Jamie Birkett) nephew, Adam (Luke Friend) who Nikos doesn’t approve of because he’s not Greek, he’s British.
“The cast were outstanding”
Nothing could prepare you for the night you’re about to encounter as you’re immediately transported to Nikos’ Taverna in Greece. Set designer Bengt Fröderberg manages to flawlessly capture the culture and atmosphere of Greece with a fountain at the centre of the courtyard and some beautiful flower decor around the taverna. We also have a bar like the one from the film on the opposite side of the venue.
The seating area is separated into 4 sections; Balcony which is where you enter the venue from, Upper Terrace, Lower Terrace and The Courtyard which is basically the main stage. We were placed on the lower terrace near the last set of stairs. This was a great view as most of the performers were usually facing this direction so it was a bit easier to see what is going on.
Once seated, we were greeted by our server for the evening and asked about any dietary requirements as the menu is pre-set for all guests. We were offered a Mezze of traditional Greek bread (rosemary bread, sea salt crackers and breadsticks) and hummus and tzatziki with olives. We were offered one glass of champagne each and one bottle of Nikos’ house wine with a choice of red or white (we chose white). The rosemary bread combined with the hummus, topped off with a glass of champagne was lovely.
After a couple of minutes, the iconic Greek salad (cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and onions with torn basil leaves garnish and drizzled with olive oil) was served. For vegans, the cheese is swapped out for vegan feta. This was very good and the garnish perfectly enhanced the flavour. About an hour from the opening, the first act starts where we are introduced to our characters who are a part of this incredible taverna, including the live band that’ll be playing iconic ABBA songs through the night.
During the performances, the cast interacts with the audience seated in the courtyard area in a pantomime style to bring us into the story. We also learn that there is a delay in delivering our main course because of our chef, Debbie (Scarlet Gabriel). The cast was outstanding and made all the ABBA and Mamma Mia! fans happy whilst not letting the non-fans feel left out.
After we hear that the oven has been fixed from Debbie, the servers bring out the main dish – a confit of lamb shoulder and slow-cooked beef served with roasted garlic potatoes, courgettes peperonata, romesco and aromatic jus, with a side of gravy to share between two people (although there wasn’t enough for two people to share). For vegetarians and vegans, the main course is roasted cauliflower with a lemon-herb dressing and stuffed tomato with lentil ragout. The slow-cooked beef had a rich texture and a good amount of flavouring, especially compared to the lamb which wasn’t great.
About 20-30 minutes later, the second act started. This is when the show shifted away from the story to focus more on the songs. Normally, that wouldn’t work but as they have already drawn us into the experience from the first act, it doesn’t hinder it at all as everyone is more focused on dancing and singing along. We also got acrobatic performances and the lighting from Patrick Woodroffe is a bigger focus in this act, especially during numbers such as Waterloo and I Let The Music Speak.
Dessert is served after the storyline is concluded. This was a traditional Greek lemon cake with confit orange skin and citrus yoghurt. For vegans, they had loukoumades (sweet honey dough balls served with sweet fig jam.) The presentation of the food was much better than the taste itself. The lemon cake was served cold and the yoghurt wasn’t particularly good either.
After dessert, you have an option of tea or coffee. It’s also the last time that you can order before the final act of ABBA medleys which included songs such as Waterloo, Dancing Queen and Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight). After the show ended, all guests were allowed to stay for an ‘after-party’ where they can dance on the stage that was created for the last act and party the night away before we say goodbye to Nikos’ Taverna.
This is an enjoyable experience for everyone whether you’re a fan of ABBA or hardly know any songs. It’s also more about the atmosphere and music rather than the food or the storyline which is fine because that’s not the main reason why you’re here as it says in the name, it’s the party.