Club Flesh relaunch (3rd February)Review: Event

Club Flesh is Torture Garden's "back to basics" fetish night, which they relaunched last weekend (Saturday 3rd February) at Cynthia's in London (a venue which previously housed their 'Cybersex' event). A new feature of the event is a fetish-theme restaurant before the club, with appropriately attired waitresses and entertainment while you eat.

Sadly, this event wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be, in fact on average it was probably the worst fetish event I've ever been to. The whole restaurant idea was a badly organised disaster, the music was terrible up to around 1am (the event only ran until 4am), and there just didn't seem to be anything like the sort of atmosphere found at TG's events at Mass.

I seem to have a lot to say about last night (it isn't all bad, honest!), so I'll try and cover things in roughly chronological order...

Me and my friends got ourselves into a car and headed for London, armed with several sets of (conflicting) directions, our best pervy clothes, and bucketloads of enthusiasm! As per usual, we got lost on the way to the venue, but not too badly this time, so we actually arrived in time for the 9pm 'deadline' to be seated for the fetish theme restaurant which was the most unusual feature of this event.

As it happened, the deadline wasn't quite as strict as we'd thought. A few people turned up later than us, and we didn't get to place our order until about 9:30 despite being ready to order about five minutes after arriving - not to mention starving hungry because we'd all skipped dinner to leave plenty of room for our fetish themed food!

The delay in getting our order taken seemed to set a theme for the evening - the staff were extremely friendly (and in the case of our waitresses, extremely attractive!), but they didn't seem to be very well organised. This was irritating given that the price of the meal had been augmented by a 10% forced gratuity. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to base the size of my tips on how good the service is?

The venue staff (who incidentally didn't bother dressing up for the occasion) mostly seemed to have a pretty low standard of english (I got the impression that they were probably all italian although I'm not sure) which made it difficult to sort out any problems you may have encountered (for instance if your food didn't arrive for an hour or your bill was wrong - read on).

Once we managed to place an order, things went well for a short while - our wine turned up and was apparently quite nice (I don't drink, but those who do seemed more than happy with it) and we also aquired some bread and butter to keep us alive until the starters turned up (we were really hungry by now!)

The only disruption to our reasonably good mood at this point was the 'in-flight entertainment' for want of a better phrase - cabaret? I don't know what you'd call it, anyway it consisted of an incredibly brash woman with a very false sounding accent roaming around the eating area shouting interrogatory questions into people's faces at a distance of about two inches... call me weird, but I wasn't entertained. In fact, she was so unpleasant, I had to ask her to leave us alone later on, as she persisted in shouting at one of my dining companions long after said friend had sunk so low into their chair they'd nearly fallen off, and leaned sideways so far they were leaning on the person sat next to them!

The starters seemed to take a long time to turn up, considering the nature of the dishes (soup, cheese with herbs, other fairly simple things). They were worth the wait though, I had the soup and it was really nice, the rest of my crowd all proclaimed happiness with their starters too, as they stuffed them in their faces!

This fine food set us into a good mood while we waited for our main course... and waited... and waited... and waited... after about an hour, we asked one of the waitresses how much longer the main course would take. She said she would go and find out. After a bit longer, one of the venue staff came and asked us if we had been served our main course yet, and when we said 'no' he started to explain that they had run out of lamb, which two of our party had ordered, hence the delay.

At this point the waitress came back to ask if we had been served our main course yet, apparently not remembering our recent conversation and also not noticing the guy from the venue we were talking to... he explained to her that he was dealing with it, and she explained to him that we hadn't had our main course yet... this went on for a while, with them both explaining to each other that we hadn't been fed yet, and eventually they seemed to believe each other and the waitress went away again. The rest of us got back to the matter in hand... we hadn't been fed yet!

The guy from the venue explained that there was no lamb, so we had to make alternate choices. I didn't quite follow all of this as the lamb orders had come from the other end of the table to me, but it seems that those people who had ordered lamb got to choose any of the other options on the menu, or possibly steak instead (which wasn't on the original menu or we'd all of ordered it in the first place!). One of the two lamb people didn't understand that they were being offered steak and so went for chicken tikka, the other realised a new and better option had been presented and went for the steak. I think the lack of understanding on the part of the former one was probably an italian/english translation difficulty, with the loud music not helping either person in the conversation to understand the other!

Speaking of the music... the music in the restaurant started off slightly too loud and not brilliant, and got steadily louder and worse as the night went on. This culminated in a terribly strident and interminably long orchestral piece while we waited for our bill, which was so bad that we actually asked them to turn it off... when they did so (after looking at us like we were all mad), the rest of the restaurant burst into applause - so it wasn't just us!

Anyway, back to the plot... eventually our main courses turned up, and they definitely weren't worth the wait. It looked like most of them had been held in a heating place while the lamb replacing steak was cooked, and they hadn't weathered it well... the only alternative theory to this is that they were badly overcooked in the first place. I'm inclined to the former theory as I tried a bit of the steak (my friend felt sorry for me after I left my main course virtually untouched) and it was really really nice, so the people in the kitchen obviously knew how to cook properly...

I had swordfish steak, which had been burned on the bottom, with roast potatoes that had been baked to the consistency and flavour of conkers. My meal also came with carrots and brocoli which had been boiled almost to mush, but happily that's how I prefer my vegetables, so that's the one bit of the meal I did eat. I can't stand over-cooked food so the rest stayed on the plate. I did try a bite of each just to see if I could eat it because I was so hungry, but they really were bad - the fish was dry and tasted like burnt paper, and as I've already said, the potatoes had aquired a remarkable resemblance to conkers in every important respect. Shame we didn't have any string. :)

My friends had chicken tikka with rice (the whole thing was dried out so badly that it all got left), swordfish etc (same as mine, with the same results except they didn't eat their mushy vegetables either), stuffed rice balls with potatoes and vegetables (rice dried out and mostly left, rest in the same state as mine and all left), and of course the lucky steak eater who had a nice bit of meat, but with some more conker-impersonating potatoes which got left behind.

I have to point out here that we didn't bother complaining, and maybe if we had then we could all of got ourselves some nice steaks instead, but by this point we were totally fed up with the restaurant disaster and we just wanted to go and enjoy ourselves in the club, try to make up the rest of the night and go home happy. This frame of mind was aided and abetted by the increasingly terrible music in the restaurant area.

I talked everyone into waiting for dessert, as I was hoping for some chocolate cake to make up to my stomach for the terrible disappointment that the main course had been... in retrospect, I really wish I hadn't bothered, as this meant us sitting through another hour of the terrible music, while the staff prepared the promised "Suprise Desert (sic) Trolley". This turned out to be less than suprising, as the first thing me and my friends had said when reading this line on the menu was "I bet they wheel it out with a naked girl covered in cake and whipped cream!". We weren't far wrong - she was covered in fruit, and surrounded by cake. Very cute, really nice figure, but I'm sorry, she wasn't worth waiting that long for. Also, there was a really big and incredibly nice looking chocolate cake... and that's a perfectly good description of it - nice looking - it tasted horrible, really cheap 'chocolate flavoured' cake. I left that too, and we resolved to escape from the terrible music and make for the dancefloor.

This wasn't as easy as we'd hoped, as getting our bill turned out to be another organisational challenge... I had to ask both waitresses and then three members of the venue staff, each time being told "Yes, it will be brought to your table" before finally it was. Someone told my girlfriend that the delay had been caused because "the man who prepares the bills only just arrived" !?!

It was during this delay that we got the terrible music killed, to put us out of our misery! It was replaced with something else that wasn't particularly great, but in comparison it was bliss, and they'd also turned it down so people could actually talk to each other while they awaited their bills.

When the bill turned up, we'd been charged for the wrong wine, at considerably higher cost than the one we'd ordered (okay, so we went for the cheapest - at 13 a bottle, it wasn't that bloody cheap!) (in the shops the same stuff would cost you about 5 a bottle at a guess).

By the way, the meal was charged at a fixed price of 17.50 a head (not including the enforced tip), which is one of the reasons we were expecting it to work out somewhat better than it did... there didn't appear to be any charge for the soft drinks that me and one of my friends had, so maybe these were included in the price of the meal.

Luckily, the member of staff who brought my bill over was very helpful (possibly the manager, as I saw him make a few quick and very sensible decisions that evening that I don't think a normal member of staff would be allowed to make). He took the bill away, and brought it back with not only the correct wine prices on it, but also he had taken off the 10% service charge - a very reasonable thing to do given the hassle we'd had through the evening, and I commend him for thinking of it.

Unfortunately when I gave him my credit card, he handed it to someone else to sort out, and they charged the original amount to it. When they handed me the receipt to sign, a conversation ensued reminding me of nothing so much as Fawlty Towers dialogue between Basil and Manuel...

"I'm sorry but you've charged me the wrong amount, it should of been this revised amount"
"Errr... is 133.43"
"Yes, that's with the wrong wine prices - if you look here, it's been changed to show the correct prices, 113.30, that's what you need to charge me"
"Errrr... errr... is 133.43"
"I can read that. Now read this!" *points at correct amount*
"Not there!!! Listen, that bloke..." *points at helpful member of staff* "made this change..." *points at new number* "to my bill"
"Errr..." *wanders off to confer with helpful bloke - I follow*

Rapidfire burst of italian (?) interspersed with helpful bloke pointing at correct number and other bloke pointing at wrong one - I suspect this conversation wasn't going any better than the one I had just had, as eventually the helpful bloke turned to me and said "They're 20 quid different, yes?" to which I replied "Yes, basically". At this point he took a twenty pound note out of his own pocket and handed it to me, then said "Is that okay?". I said yes and signed the bill quite happily... then shook the helpful bloke's hand. He came very close to making up for the whole mess just by being helpful and reasonable at the right times, well done that man!

And so we escaped the restaurant area and made for the dancefloor at 20 past midnight, leaving us with less than four hours of clubbing to go - at 12 for non-members to get in, that meant my friends had to have more than 3 worth of fun for every hour we had left! At the members' price of 10 I only had to make between 2.50 and 3 of fun, so I went to sit down while the headache induced by the restauarant music and the bill fiasco died down... incidentally, the meal was only supposed to last until 11pm, but obviously the various organisational mishaps dragged it out somewhat, which ate into our clubbing time quite heavily. On second thoughts, this may not have been too important give the state of the dancefloor music when we got to it.

When I'd gone to the loo earlier, there had been a few different sound systems at work in the various rooms, but by the time we emerged from the restaurant this seemed to have been consolidated into one DJ covering the whole venue... this would of been fine if he hadn't had such terrible taste in music! He reminded me of a mobile DJ playing requests at a family wedding - my girlfriend said she was waiting in dread for him to put Agadoo or the Chicken Song on! As there was nowhere to escape him, we spent most of the next hour as far from the speakers as possible, which meant the very cold seating area near the front door. I'm not sure why, but the front door was left open all night, which meant the comfy seat area was freezing - that's what you call a chill-out area I suppose! :)

At about 1am or just after, the DJ must have changed, as the music went from terrible to danceable in a matter of seconds... we headed back in and got ourselves warmed up on the dancefloor (or in that vicinity, it was quite crowded in there suddenly as everyone had the same idea!)

From this point on, the night started to pick up... the dungeon area had been fairly unused up to this time, partially due to it being slightly too well lit and I suspect partly due to the terrible music being played next door to it! When I went through there at 2am however, there was plenty of action taking place on and around the various items of furniture. The lights had been dimmed a bit more which helped too. The dungeon equipment looked basic but adequate to my inexperienced eye, perhaps one of the people using it might comment here and give more information... I think there were two crosses, a whipping post and a 'love seat' (don't know what it's really called, it looked like a cheap version of a gynacologist's examination chair to me!)

Interestingly, the action in this venue was almost entirely between straight couples, as opposed to the large gay male contingent in the dark room at Mass. There also didn't seem to be many group scenes going on, with people being allowed to look but not touch... me and my girlfriend had one idiot wander up to us and try to stick his tongue in my girlfriend's face - he's lucky he moved back swiftly as she had to block him with the hand she was holding her drink with and he nearly got glassed! Next time ask first, arsehole.

The venue itself had good and bad points for playing in - on the plus side, the place is mirrored the entire length of every internal wall, which gives you some great views of yourself as you look round, and allows people watching to get a better look at what you're up to without crowding in too close... on the down side, the entire venue floor (and the non-mirrored top and bottom section of each wall) is plated with steel chequer-plate flooring, which is not a comfortable material to kneel on, lay on, crawl on, or whatever else you may want to do at floor level. Lots of people got to practice the standing up sexual positions at this event, and I think some mattresses might be a nice idea in future, although I'm not sure where they could be placed as there was a lack of suitable spaces as it was laid out this time. On the other hand, standing up was fine with me and mine, and you wouldn't be able to see in the mirrors if you were laying on the floor, so maybe it's better as it is!

The dancefloor was consistently packed from the change of DJ onwards, with the dancing crowd growing to take over the whole room the dancefloor was in, and a bit of the next room too, before people started leaving around 3am and it shifted back into just the one room. The dungeon seemed to be used in fits and spurts (no pun intended!) but was fairly consistently occupied from 2am onwards. The other rooms had varying amounts of people sitting around and chatting in them... the restaurant area was serving snacks until 2am, and then people just sat around in there talking. I wandered round putting out leaflets for this site at one point and everyone looked like they were having a good time... by this time, so was everyone that I'd come with, and yes, we did go home happy, so I suppose you could say the night was a success. Next time we'll skip the meal though!

The bar closed at 3am, which it would of been nice to know in advance - I really wanted a soft drink at about quarter past three! Bar prices weren't unusually bad for London, except the price of water which was a bit cheeky for a dance club. Lemonade or coke was 1.50 for about half a pint, water was 2 a bottle, and a brandy and coke was 2.80.

The lights started to come up in all the rooms at 10 to 4, and people were ushered out fairly swiftly, but not hurried out nastily, which was nice. We did the usual vague wandering round trying to remember where we'd parked and eventually fell into the car and rolled home to bed.

Short summary: Disastrous dining experience, terrible music until 1am, venue has cool mirrored walls but hard steel floors and seemed to struggle to find a fetish atmosphere (although that could of been the bad music at the start). All in all I think I'll spend my money on a visit to Mass next time, the last time I went there I had a great time from start to finish.

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Delayed review#1

My abject and highly embarassed apologies to anyone who picked up a leaflet at the event and found that this site was down all day yesterday - my hosting service broke my server (with incredibly bad timing), much to my disgust.

I wrote the review offline but couldn't get it to the site until it came back up at 1:30pm on Monday. Hope it was worth the wait!?


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Torture Garden Official response#2


Club Flesh re-launched at a new venue, and with a new fetish restaurant facility on Saturday the 3rd of February at Cynthia?s. The event as a whole was very well received, and the idea of a fetish restaurant also proved overwhelmingly popular, selling out over a week in advance.
Of the 40 people who dined at the restaurant, we have generally received very favorable comments. But unfortunately there were far too many problems with various aspects of the restaurant experience to make it satisfactory for a TG event.
Although TG is not directly involved in the financial, culinary or service aspects of the restaurant facility, it is still ultimately our responsibility to ensure that it up to our high standards, as it is being promoted as a major feature of the re-launch of Club Flesh.
The major problem on the night was the simple matter that the restaurant was under staffed by the venue, in terms of both kitchen and table service staff. Apparently this was mostly due to the main chef being I?ll on the night, resulting in the restaurant manager taking over as head chef in the kitchen and subsequently leaving no one managing the organization of the restaurant and table service.
TG?s role was to leave the cooking and service to the full time professionals, and to simply add a theatrical touch to the proceedings, in the shape of 2 dressed up waitresses, a dominatrix and 2 sub-missives. All general waiting duties were to be left to the venue staff, with TG?s staff left mostly free to interact and flirt with the diners.
Unfortunately the general understaffing and lack of management meant that the venue staff were so overstretched, it resulted in TG?s waitresses being left to deal almost alone with all the table service, which they were not trained to do.
The understaffing in the kitchen also meant that they were simply not capable of dealing efficiently with the increased strain of 40 people ordering 3 courses simultaneously in one single sitting.
The result of all the behind the scenes chaos on the diners was that the restaurant experience was both disjointed and disorganized at times, and it was unfortunately down to the luck of the draw for who?s evening ran smoothly and who?s did not. Some diners were served quickly and also received their meals on schedule, resulting in a satisfactory experience, whilst others just a table or two away may have had to wait for excessive periods for either their drinks, starter, main course or bill, resulting in a very unsatisfactory experience.
There were also one or two tables that were served last, which were informed that one of the 4 main courses was not available, which obviously should not have happened given that it was a set menu.
But on the whole (despite the lack of kitchen staff), although there were some problems with the food, when it did arrive the response from diners was generally very good.
Also, although it was late due to the delays beforehand, the one aspect that was greeted with more or less universal acclaim was the spectacular surprise desert trolley finale, which was wheeled out to the appropriate sound of the theme from `The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover?, receiving a big round of applause from all those present that got it!
The general ambience and atmosphere in the restaurant was also excellent throughout.
Despite the many plus points, a restaurant that doesn?t get the basics right is a bad restaurant, and just a few complaints and unhappy customers are a few too many. Therefore it simply wasn?t good enough for a TG event.
We apologize to those who were disappointed by the experience.
We have already passed on our complaints to the venue management, and they fully understand the problems and have assured us that they will sort out the organization and staffing problems for the next event.
We have also emphasized to them that we cannot tolerate another badly organized restaurant event, and that if our reputation suffers again we will be forced to stop the restaurant facility.
We would also like to emphasize that TG is not taking a financial cut from the restaurant, and has introduced this facility because we thought it would add something different and special to the UK fetish club scene. The ?17.50 the venue charges solely covers the basic food bill, and TG actually contributed an extra ?300 towards making the dining experience extra special, with the added dressed up waitresses, dominatrix and food performance creating a theatrical occasion. But again a theatrical occasion is wasted if the restaurant basics aren?t right.
Despite the problems of the first night, the massive potential of a restaurant facility at a venue such as Cynthia?s was drastically clear, and we will do all we possibly can to ensure that it is a full success.
The food at Cynthia?s was not expected to be up there with London?s gastronomic elite, but it should be easily good enough to justify the ?17.50 charge. This combined with the added theatricality of TG and the fantasy venue should make it a totally unique dinning experience, and cheap at the price.
Therefore if you attended the first restaurant event and were disappointed, please give it another try, as we remain sure that it can and will work. And if you couldn?t get a table on the opening night don?t miss out on such a unique occasion and give it a try. We are already receiving bookings for the second event on the 3rd of March and the next on the 5th of May!



PS: In reply to a letter of complaint on TG?s website regarding the music played in the restaurant at Club Flesh. Music is a matter of personal taste, but the music compilation played in the restaurant was an ambient mix of the popular style of music that is played in the dungeon room at all TG and Club Flesh events.

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A really amusing review Denny ... I enjoyed it immensely ... ophelia

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TG private response#4

As well as their official comments above, TG have contacted me and my friends personally and offered us free tickets to the next Club Flesh event, which is very kind of them.

If we take this offer up, then obviously another review will be forthcoming - but whether we're there or not, I hope that it goes better this time!


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Never happened...#7

I don't know what conclusions to draw from this, if any, but when we contacted TG to try and accept their kind offer of tickets, they never replied. We've sent several emails and still no reply. I should mention that I haven't tried ringing them yet, I've been very busy with other things, but because of the lack of response by email, we never got to go back...


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Club Flesh#5

We thought about going to the resturant but decided we did not want to dance on a full stomach. We arrived around 11pm and it took a long time for the club to get a decent atmosphere. Fet clubs often depend on night animals so they can be late starting, this was so late we were getting ready to leave. The numbers were low but the dance floor could'nt take off because the music was crap until about 1am; when it became good and the dance floor suddenly got packed. The early part reminded of Club Rub when it went through a phase of saying you get the music the DJ wants to play even if they buy their records from charity shops.

I have been to most Club Flesh events, this has potential but has yet to create the atmosphere of past venues thouigh not as bad as the disasterous Bond night (have you ever wanted to dance to Bond film music?). Not bad but keep trying.

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Scene interference#6

There are too many people being admitted who are either there to gawp or have no idea of etiquette. On three occasions I had to remonstrate
-once physically- with jackasses who stand too close or touch up the subs. The bouncers are amiable enough and helped ex post facto, but
more Dungeon Monitors are needed to make sure things don't develop that far before the heavies need to be informed.

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