REVIEW: Thrilling immersive murder mystery and delightfully delicious food at The Church Bar & Restaurant in Northampton

Enjoy fine dining as you watch a dramatic murder unfold around you and use your detective skills to divulge the killer
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The Church Bar & Restaurant, situated in the heart of Northampton, hosted a murder mystery evening on Saturday, March 5.

The Chronicle & Echo was invited along to the event and, being an avid reader of thriller novels, I snatched up the opportunity to be a journalist turned detective for the night.

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Prior to Saturday, I received an invitation inviting me to a charity evening held at the home of Lord and Lady Lovelace, raising money for 'The Lovelace Charity for Destitute Children.'

'Who dunnit?': Actors from The Murder Mystery Collective present an immersive experience for diners at The Church Bar & Restaurant in Northampton.'Who dunnit?': Actors from The Murder Mystery Collective present an immersive experience for diners at The Church Bar & Restaurant in Northampton.
'Who dunnit?': Actors from The Murder Mystery Collective present an immersive experience for diners at The Church Bar & Restaurant in Northampton.

I was also able to pre-order my three-course meal from a pre-prepared menu and, I have to say, it was hard to choose because all the dishes sounded mouth-wateringly good.

I brought along three guests and, after entering the 12th century building and hanging up our coats, we enjoyed a couple of drinks in The Church bar as we awaited the rest of the evening guests.

The bar was soon bustling with smartly dressed people, excitedly chattering about what the night had in store.

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"Have you seen a pig running through here, by any chance?" A male Eastern European voice asks from behind me.

I turned around thinking someone has been a tad overzealous at the bar and I quickly realised that we had been joined by the characters of the night's murder mystery and I was face-to-face with the eccentric chef.

Each actor made their way through the crowd and, much to everyone's delight, mingled with every group of guests in character, thus setting the stage for the evening.

We were soon shown through to the beautiful atmospheric restaurant, where we we seated in our groups.

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Diners were welcomed by the proud and jovial Lord Lovelace, who talked a bit about his charity and then introduced us to his outspoken wife, Lady Lovelace, who proceeded to say a few words.

Just as Lord Lovelace warned, his wife was indeed outspoken. Laughter erupted from tables as she poked fun at people and then bang.

The room fell silent as Lady Lovelace collapsed. Dead.

It was fair to say that I was so wrapped up in the comedic genius of the characters that I almost forgot about the murder mystery and was completely taken by surprise by the sudden death.

Stifled chuckles fill the room as we observe the characters panic and remove Lady Lovelace's body.

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The Reverend announces that all the phone lines have been cut so the police cannot be called so it is up to us to find out who committed this heinous crime.

Was it Lord Lovelace, who was not as happy in his marriage as he made out?

Was it the wacky head chef, who openly hated Lady Lovelace?

Was it the simple stable boy, who the lady frequently picked on?

Was it the reverend, who had private prayer meetings with the lady every week?

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Was it the reverend's wife, Mrs Frost, who had a terrible drinking problem?

We took turns interviewing each colourful character as a table in between courses as we read up on their backstories and brainstormed each of their possible motives.

Further shocking revelations emerged after each course, which evoked even more questions and certainly kept us busy as we waited for our food. There was never a dull moment for the entire evening.

I ordered sun-blush tomato and pesto arancini to start with, which was easily the dish that won me over that night. It had a crunchy crumb coating with a sticky risotto, pesto and mozzarella filling that created a delightful savoury melt-in-your-mouth experience.

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For my main, I had roasted duck breast with blood orange sauce. The duck was cooked to perfection and the roast potato was just the right amount of fluffy and crispy.

I then ended with white chocolate mousse for dessert, which was wonderfully smooth. The added pistachio pieces and bittersweet rhubarb sorbet gave a lovely range to the textures and flavours in this dish.

Other dishes enjoyed at my table included a mini venison steak and cheese pie, braised beef shin, beetroot cured salmon gravadlax, manuka honey and blueberry cheesecake and lemon tart.

One of my guests said: "The pie starter was so delicate, the meat was really 'melt in the mouth'; the beef main was perfect, the veggies were soft but not overdone, the meat was so flavourful and tender and the desert was so good.

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"The raspberry sorbet was really tangy and packed a punch but the lemon tart added a subtle sweetness; it was really well balanced."

Another guest described their food as "bloody handsome."

The evening, on the whole, was a highly pleasurable experience. We enjoyed fine dining and the thrill of an immersive murder mystery experience with such attention to detail that kept diners on their toes throughout the night.

The characters, played by actors from The Murder Mystery Collective, were a major highlight. The actors were truly impeccable with their witty improvisation and their faultless ability to entertain.

I am pleased to say, they especially enjoyed the name we gave our table - 'Agathy Crusty.'

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I would highly recommend venturing to The Church Restaurant for a murder mystery experience when the next opportunity arises.

At £60 per for a three course meal and an evening of immersive entertainment, it is excellent value for money.

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