Have you been desperately trying to get a table at Tripadvisor's top rated The Shed at Dulwich? Perhaps you’ve found the line busy for weeks on end, or once you’ve finally managed to get through only to be told the restaurant’s booked out for the next six months - unless perhaps you’re a friend of Jackie’s, by any chance? No? Maybe you’re an influencer on Instagram? Sorry…
Well, the gig is finally very much up. VICE’s breathtakingly shameless writer Oobah Butler has now revealed the whole setup was an elaborate ploy to highlight how TripAdvisor's rankings were “a false reality”. After months of tinkering with reviews, The Shed at Dulwich somehow ended up beating all of London’s restaurants to become Tripadvisor’s number one in the city for two whole weeks - despite never existing.
The prank, which ostensibly started all the way back in April, eventually culminated in a wonderfully shambolic launch night in a freezing south London garden, pranking bewildered diners who’d until that moment couldn’t believe their luck at getting a seating. Blindfolded, they were then led into a garden "containing a hastily-assembled collection of chairs outside [a] shed" to be treated to an experience that was no doubt unforgettable, but for all the wrong reasons.
There were Iceland ready meals. There was a wendy house full of chickens brought just for the occasion. And there was a DJ that exclusively played ambient restaurant noises in order to disguise the constant sound of the microwave. Really, the whole article is a masterclass in how to troll the London restaurant scene, and well worth a read (as long as you don’t mind cringing so hard your face might turn inside out).
We only feel sorry for the hapless couple who despite all of the above expressed their pleasure in the evening and unbelievably, asked if it’d now be easier to book again. They must really like ready meals.