Although £85 plus per person might seem a lot for an evening out – especially for an oldie on a limited income – in my opinion it represents good value for money when you realise that it includes a welcome drink, an immersive theatrical event/spectacular show, set four course meal and ABBA disco. However, you could end up paying more than £85 (even over £200!) as the price depends on the day of the week and where your table is situated. The venue has been turned into Nikos Taverna, the setting is Skopelos, the Greek island where the first film was made. There’s a courtyard with fountain, artificial bougainvillea, tables covered with blue checked cloths – all very pretty but obviously much larger than any real taverna.
I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t pay anything at all to go as I was very fortunate to win tickets in a Saga Possibilities ballot so my friend and I, both in our 70s and remembering the 1970s with much affection, caught a coach to the O2 complex in North Greenwich one cold Wednesday afternoon in February. That evening most, but not all, of the venue was allocated to Saga members, ballot winners plus others who had bought tickets, so I’m guessing there was a higher proportion than usual of mature people, although there were also quite a few younger people and family groups. True to British form, when we saw that a queue was forming we joined it and by the time it was 6.30 pm the queue was a long snake, coiled round several times. We chatted to our neighbours in the queue and discovered people had come from all over the country – Stoke, Lymington, Reading, Essex – even Scotland. While in the queue our names were checked against the booking system and we were allocated a table number before we entered, then we left our coats in the cloakroom and climbed the stairs to the mezzanine bar for our free welcome drink – ouzo, blush prosecco or a non-alcoholic cocktail. We were then shown to our table and were extremely lucky to be placed at a table in a premium position on the ground floor, with good views of the action, though, to be fair I guess those on the various terraces and balconies also had good views. When booking online there are plans showing which areas are priced as Premium etc. Although our table was set for 8 people only 6 of us turned up so we had even more food between us, which sadly we didn’t manage to finish. It’s a cashless venue so any drinks ordered from the bar must be paid for by card. Our waiter, Ash, was a very personable young man but I’m afraid our table did not keep him very busy getting extra drinks as Saga had also supplied some complimentary wine and water for us. The food was delicious. The menu can be seen online, included 4 types of bread/flatbread, olives, dips, Greek salad, spinach and feta pie, slow cooked lamb, beef, aubergines, etc. etc. and then orange cake for dessert and tea or coffee with mini baklavas. Vegetarians and vegans have their own menus so I assume they would be seated with people wanting the same options. Ash asked us about food allergies and intolerances and was helpful in suggesting which foods should be avoided.
In between the courses we were treated to the live show, a feel-good, amusing musical featuring ABBA songs performed by a cast of competent singers, musicians and dancers. We sang along to the choruses; what we lacked in singing ability was more than made up for by enthusiasm and (my) sheer delight at being being able to belt out a song that nobody else could hear. The fountain spouted water, then flames leapt into the air, a contortionist performed on the bar, an aerial acrobat over the fountain. The performers danced and sang around the tables and joked with diners. The atmosphere and temperature were warm. We had been advised that we could wear summer clothes, as if we were in a Greek taverna, all very casual. The show finished with Greek dancing round the fountain, at which point we were invited to join in; we pushed our way into the throng for a traditional circle dance, but there were just too many of us in a small space and we couldn’t move sideways. The music soon changed to ABBA again for the disco and as well as dancing it was entertaining just to watch so many different age groups on the dance floor – that’s the thing about ABBA music, it makes you want to dance. With the waiters clearing up around us we said goodbye to our lovely tablecompanions, collected our coats and set off for the bus stop, not wishing to miss the last bus back home. We’d had a lovely time. My photos aren’t good as no flashes are allowed and I don’t have a smartphone!
Note: The venue is NOT the main O2 arena, but IS in the dome, not far from the new shopping outlet area.
Access: Apparently there are lifts to all floors. I saw at least one disabled access toilet on the ground floor near the entrance but there might be others elsewhere. Wheelchair users need to ring a special number to book.