The Diner Soho

Chips for chips

The Diner are a chain of American style diners serving up classic burgers, fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and gloriously thick milkshakes. The Diner Soho is styled with a classic American theme which was well suited to the 1950’s feel of the evening. I was there not just to try the great burgers, fires and shakes but also to try my hand at the blackjack and roulette tables, gambling with my dinner! 

Gambling for my dinner with

Gambling isn’t usually my thing, save for a flutter on the grand national. The closest I’ve been to a real life roulette wheel or blackjack table is watching Casino Royale or Oceans 11. But Tuesday evening saw me hitting the the casino tables in the world’s FIRST pop-up food casino. Yes you did read that right, a food casino! So what makes a casino a food casino, I mean they must serve food and drink in regular ones, after all James Bond’s always sitting with a Martini (shaken not stirred) in hand whilst playing an obscure card game.

At the food casino we were betting with chips, nothing different you say? Well these were less casino chips and more the French fry kind. The rules were simple. On arrival I was greeted by waitresses in 50’s dresses who told me that I’d be playing to win my dinner, cricky and here I was thinking this was an evening off work!

There were four games to play through. The first two games, Roulette and Blackjack, gave me a chance to win extra chips with which I could later ‘buy’ side dishes and drinks. At table craps there was a further chance to stake and double or lose everything. Finally after your meal (a drink and your burger were complimentary) you had a chance play Texas Hold’em, win a second dessert or a conciliatory muffin.

‘Raise the Steaks’ is the World’s First Food Casino to mark the launch of; gamblers don’t bet with money, but actual chips (fries), in order to try and win their dinner.

‘Raise the Steaks’ is the World’s First Food Casino to mark the launch of; gamblers don’t bet with money, but actual chips (fries), in order to try and win their dinner.

I started out with a box of twenty chips (the kind you can eat) and was also given twenty casino chips for the Roulette table. Each casino chip you gambled had to be matched with a real ‘chip’. It mean’t that even if you were winning, which I managed to do, you still had to leave after running out of potato chips. You could however buy you way back in, £5 for a new box of chips with the money going to a cancer research charity. For my first try at a Roulette table I think I did quite well, I left with more chips than I started with, cashing out to move on to Blackjack.

At the Blackjack table I didn’t fair quite as well but still managed to come away with a few extra casino chips which I could exchange for extra fries with my burger, chips for chips.

The Diner Soho

Food_Casino_Diner_43 (1)

After a spot of gambling it was time to get down to eat my winnings. I love a good burger, who doesn’t. I often think that the huge explosion of burger restaurants we’ve seen in the last few years is because secretly we all want to go to McDonalds and get the burger from our childhood, but we’d feel bad if we did.

We had the choice of three burgers, the BBQ Chicken Burger (which I had) comes with chicken breast, shredded chicken, lettuce, pickles, slaw and mayo and bbq sauces, quite a mouthful! The other options were the beef burger and the veggie stack.

The Diner Soho

I sat with a few other writers and between us we cashed in some of our ‘chips’ to get a big helping of French fries, after all those chips I couldn’t resist having a good portion or two of them.

After that we got the chance to gamble for our dessert with Texas Hold’em. I won and had a big old portion of American cheesecake, delish! I washed it all down with a few glasses of Prosecco. Okay, maybe that’s not quite in keeping with the 1950’s theme or the diner experience but it does go well with an evening at the casino.

The event was to promote the launch of a new online casino brand called which has a 1950’s theme, The Diner Soho was chosen to launch the site as it’s very much in keeping with the 50’s theme. Whilst I loved playing the games at food casino and think the idea of gambling with (potato) chips is really fun I’m still not sure that real gambling would quite be for me as losing a few chips is quite different to risking real money!

The Diner Soho,
18 Ganton Street, London,


Russell BowesReview text and photos By Russell Bowes Find me on Google Plus, catch up and message me on Twitter and see more great pictures on Flickr and Instagram. Pin with me on Pintrest.


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