If you’re a fan of Batman and the extended DC Universe, there are typically two ways to throw yourself into the enchanting world of Gotham City: Tour the huge movie sets at Warner Bros Studios., or you just rewatch the movies on HBO Max. But now, Gotham has been brought to life in a new, exciting way that would even meet Bruce Wayne’s high standards, thanks to Park Row, a Batman-inspired restaurant in Central London.
The fine-dining establishment, set within the ballroom of a former hotel, is a passion project of restaurateur James Bulmer, created in partnership with DC and Warner Bros. Although the venue is inspired by the Caped Crusader and his villains, it doesn’t look much different than a standard European restaurant. There is no Batman figure to take pictures with, or memorabilia to see up close. In fact, you won’t even spot the bat logo anywhere—other than a mini chocolate bat served in the petit fours.
“We wanted it to not break the fourth wall,” says Bulmer. “So when you cross that threshold into the restaurant, you pretty much step into our version of Gotham City — a real-life movie set and adult playground.” Rather than building a gimmicky tourist attraction, he wanted customers to feel transported into the narrative of Bruce Wayne’s early years as Batman, which also happens to be the focus of The Batman, the newest movie featuring the superhero. “The framework had to be still a glamorous, comfortable dining environment, just cloaked with a little bit of comic book fun,” he says.
The floor is divided into five sections, each inspired by a popular aspect of Batman lore. Pennyworth’s is the dandy entrance bar fit for Batman’s beloved British butler Alfred Pennyworth, while Old Gotham City is a neon-lit lounge area that recreates a seedy neighborhood in the fictional metropolis. The Iceberg Lounge – the fictional nightclub owned by the Penguin – takes up the biggest space. Meanwhile, Catwoman and Poison Ivy get their own distinct corners, too. Those willing to pay more to feel like a billionaire playboy can sample a ten-course menu at Monarch Theatre, a VIP section named after the location where Bruce’s parents were murdered. The colorful, zany bathrooms? Tributes to the Joker and Harley Quinn, of course.
“What we have been trying to do across the design everywhere is hide these wonderful back stories that connect to the main character and villains,” says Bulmer. “It was our way of allowing you to come here, experience it as a restaurant, and walk around to discover these clues.”
Superfans will find around 50 Easter eggs (hidden details) embedded throughout the restaurant. Here are some we spotted, without spoiling too much: a grandfather clock in the entrance is set to 10:48 p.m., the exact time when Bruce’s parents were killed. Bane’s favorite teddy bear can be found slumped in Old Gotham City. And the coolest one is by far a blue aperitif that pours out from the corner of a painting called The Blue Boy. The artwork was based on a famously stolen piece, and can be spotted in the background in the films Batman (1989) and Joker (2019).
The food is equally full of thoughtful details. Some dishes are direct callbacks to Bruce’s favorites (Mulligatawny Soup; rib eye steak), while others are inspired by the iconic characters. A popular order is the Joker Fish, a pan-seared Atlantic cod served with splatters of red, yellow, green and white purée – a Jackson Pollock-esque presentation that gloriously captures the villain’s aesthetic and chaotic energy. Keep an eye out for I Am Fear, an entrée served in a cloud of smoke, consisting of an interesting medley of textures: slow-cooked duck egg, raw enoki mushrooms, breadcrumbs, and walnuts, dressed in wild garlic foam.
We recommend ending the meal with Kiss From A Rose, a dessert named after the scene in Batman Forever (1995) when Bruce’s mother dies and a single-stem rose and pearl necklace falls to the ground. The waiter swabs the rose into a bowl of dry ice, letting the frozen petals fall onto a vanilla custard tart. Rounding out the textures are crunchy raspberry and rose “pearls” and lychee ice cream. The super theatrical treat has taken Instagram by storm.
Though Park Row is against creating a “theme park” experience, there is one unique souvenir you can take home. For £495 ($617) a pop, you can grab a bottle of Inishtree, a Scottish whiskey from a now-defunct distillery, inspired by the Wayne family’s ancestral castle in Scotland. There are less than 20 bottles remaining, so better act quick if you want to keep the Batman experience going at home.
With a spate of DC movies on the release schedule, Bulmer is looking beyond Batman for the future of Park Row. A main dish inspired by Aquaman has already launched, and he has more plans to further tweak the concept based on other DC characters that will be introduced in the cinematic universe. “That’s the fun of creating different products that lean back into this incredible world,” Bulmer says. “There’s 80 years of content to get inspired by.”
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