Nibblr: A New Social Dining Experience

The #NibblrLaunch Event

Set in the heart of Mayfair, in Grosvenor Square in an elegant Italian restaurant called Avista, the new social dining network, Nibblr hosted its official launch event last night and I was lucky enough to be invited along.

Avista Restaurant

But before I get carried away and tell how the evening panned out, let me first step back in time a few weeks to the day when I first heard about Nibblr and how my friends and I reacted to the concept.

Some people refuse to settle…

Only a few days earlier, my friend and I were debating the challenges of being single ladies in London with friends that are settling down and have less time to socialise in the city or are moving further away. As a consequence our social circles were shrinking around us and the opportunity to meet new people without walking up to random people in bars and introduce yourself, which unsurprisingly can seem a little odd to some people and wasn’t really appealing or confidence building. Let me also point out here that, just because we’re single doesn’t necessarily mean we want to be out looking for romance either. We’d just like to be able to go out every now and then and be in a hassle free environment where saying hi and getting to know someone who shares a few common interests or inspires new ideas and experiences is entirely possible. Equally, if somewhere along the way romance appears, hey, that’s okay too. So, we decided to start looking out for events, occasions and social opportunities where we could do exactly that and then lo and behold, an email pops in my inbox from Drew, inviting me to the launch of Nibblr! Fate? Perhaps! But what’s it all about?

Nibblr: Bringing together good food and good company to share good times

Well, Nibblr is social network that gets you offline and back into the ‘real world’ to enjoy the company of new faces or old over dinner.

http://www.Nibblr.co.uk – The Social Dining Network

To get started, you simply pop along to http://www.nibblr.co.uk and and register as a member; membership is free! Then there are just 4 quick steps separating you from a quiet night in front of the TV or a dining experience to remember:
  • BROWSE: Login and browse the site to find people you’d like to dine with, places you’d like to eat or even groups you’d like to join.
  • RESERVE: Make a reservation for the meal you’d like to attend and enter your payment details on the booking form. Payment is only triggered when the 4th person joins the booking, therefore confirming that the meal will go ahead. Plus, you can even leave your tip in advance if you wish. The only thing you pay for on the night will be your drinks, unless stated otherwise.
  • EAT: Go and enjoy several courses of great food at your chosen venue.
  • SOCIALISE: Meet other curious guests who want to enjoy your company for the evening in the city.
It couldn’t be simpler, right? I couldn’t wait to spread the word amongst my friends and colleagues who were super keen to check it out for themselves.

What’s it like to be a Nibblr?

When I woke up on Thursday morning the first thing I did, as I do every morning, was to check Twitter and there was Nibblr, tweeting about the #Nibblrlaunch event that evening. I made a note to check the hashtag later that day and see who else would be coming along and found two happy tweeters @Lisa_Eatsworld and @4thinthetrilogy and promptly followed them and said ‘Hi’. While this wasn’t the typical way to meet fellow Nibblrs, Twitter worked as a great substitute.

On arrival at Avista later that evening, I was greeted by host and founder of Nibblr, Neil Rafferty, who promptly offered me a glass of wine and gave me a run down on the evening ahead. Neil is a lovely chap who’s clearly very passionate about his social dining network concept and that passion is clear in his attention to detail when choosing the right locations, menus and staff to make a Nibblr experience as effortless as possible for the Nibblr.

The Happy Chef

Dinner was introduced by the man I Instragrammed as ‘The Happy Chef’ – (Aka Michele Granziera). He was very keen to please and as he introduced each of the five courses we were about to enjoy and he made it very clear that anything that didn’t sound quite to our taste could be altered or changed for something we’d prefer. The Happy Chef was clearly a man who wanted to ensure we left with smiling faces and great memories of his gastronomic mastery.

The Food

The Menu was delightful. A refreshing crab salad with punchy fruit flavours was presented as our starter and you could sense the anticipation for our second course already. I personally found, the lemon sorbet to be particular favourite ingredient as I’m a stronger believer in mixing fruit with fish and when paired with the Vermentino Villa Salis, Santadi 2011, this course was quite lovely.

For our second course, a perfectly portioned mushroom risotto with foie gras was served with the Valtellina Superiore Sassella “Il Glince”, Fay 2007. While I enjoyed the risotto, I found the wine to be fruity on the nose but quite dry on the palate. My favourite red was still yet to come.

Our fish course was, a Salmon dish with asparagus and a béarnaise sauce, was presented beautifully and far exceeded my expectations in the taste stakes. This course was paired with a Chardonnay Fontanelle, Banfi 2010, which was delightful. For anyone who lives by the ‘ABC’ rule: Anything but Chardonnay – trust me when I say, if you’re not drinking the Banfi, you’re definitely missing out!

Next up, braised pork cheeks with Swiss chard, mustard, mash potato and red wine jus. I must admit, I’d never tried pork cheeks before and was a little apprehensive  but curious nonetheless, and my fellow diners assured  me that it if cooked well, the meat would be a ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ experience. It was, as they had anticipated, delicious. The Swiss chard worked beautifully with the rich meat flavours and the Pinot Nero Riserva, Niedermayr, 2007, turned out to be my red of choice for the evening: fruity, spicy and an excellent length.

Then, the course everyone looks forward to, Dessert. A pleasant plum tart with vanilla ice cream which was served a fabulous dessert wine, another Banfi treat, the Moscadella di montalcino Florus, Banfi, 2010. In my mind, dessert wines often get over looked for coffee. If that’s the case for you too, make sure you don’t miss out next time. Instead, save your espresso to be savoured at the grande  finale to round of your evening.

Finally, a row of tantalising petit fours appeared and I chose a macaroon. Something not too sweet to steal away my Moscadella moments but sweet enough to please.

Crab Salad with Avocado, Papaya and Lemon Sorbet

Risotto with Mushroom and Foie Gras

Salmon with Asparagus and Béarnaise sauce

Braised Pork Cheeks, Swiss Chard and Red Wine Jus

Plum Tart and Vanilla Ice Cream

Petit Four

Neil, Founder of Nibblr

The Company

In a funny twist of fate, I sat myself down at the table at the start of the evening, introduced myself to the other guests and after a few minutes we realised that I’d sat right next to Lisa aka @Lisa_Eatsworld, who I’d met on Twitter earlier that day. As it turned out we both work in marketing by day, blog in our spare time and have a shared interest in travel and discovering new experiences in the city. Both Lisa and her boyfriend Paul made the evening throughly enjoyable and I’m very much looking forward to meet them again in the near future. Our table overall had a great mix of people of different nationalities: Australian, British, Austrian and American to name a few which made for great conversation all round.

The Good Times

I’m really pleased to say that for me, the Nibblr experience really delivered on what it was trying to achieve:

Good Food + Good Company =  Good Times

I’ve been raving about the experience all day to my work colleagues and friends and can’t wait to sign up to another event. The only challenge now will be choosing which meal to go along to and who I’d like to dine with. I can be terrible at making decisions when everything looks good!

Is social dining the experience my friend and I have been looking for?

Absolutely. It ticks all the boxes on our checklist:

  • A hassle free environment
  • Meeting new people with common or shared interests
  • New ideas and inspiration from the conversations
  • Good times

As for romance, well , that’s not a priority right now and this isn’t a dating network but that’s not to say that this environment wouldn’t be a good place to start expanding our social circles and create new opportunities. 🙂

A few Thank-yous

Many thanks to Drew at Hotwire PR and Janey at 33 Digital for the kind invitation to attend; The Happy Chef and The Restaurant Manager and staff at Avista for the excellent food and service throughout the evening. And finally, huge thanks and congratulations to Neil, as founder of Nibblr, for coming up with such a great concept and what was in my opinion, a very successful #Nibblrlaunch event.

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