Tag Archives: Kent

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September Menus… Hari’s Favourites

UPDATE…

WE STILL HAVE SPACES ON ALL NIGHTS… Please spread the word…

Well we are back home and all is looking good. We have decided to do four nights in September over two weekends this month as it has been over nine months since we did dinners in our own home and we have something rather different now. We have decided to do a simple choice set menu on each weekend that will give diners a chance to sample some of our favourite dishes. On September 5th and 6th the Menu will be as follows. Choice can be made on the night which is something new for us!

Arrival 7:30pm Dinner served at 8:00pm

Gravad Lax with a Sweet German Mustard Sauce 

Onion & Goats Cheese Tart with a Salad Leaf Garnish

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Spicy Moroccan Lamb Tajine with Cous Cous

Smoked Cod Fish Cakes, Wilted Spinach and a Lemon Butter Sauce

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Chocolate “Nutella” Torte with a Red Berry Compote

Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Suggested Donation £30 per person (service not included)


 

September 19th and 20th the menu will be as follows:-

 

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Pork & Apricot Terrine with Rocket & Pine Nut  Salad

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Poached Chicken Breast with Spinach, Feta & Sun dried Tomato Stuffing, Herb Butter Sauce. Lemon Bulgar Wheat

Roasted Salmon Fillet with Chorizo, Green Beans & New Potatoes

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Flourless Orange & Hazelnut Torte with Marmalade Cream

Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Suggested Donation £30 per person (service not included)

NB: All Menus Subject to

Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability

Please complete the booking form below to secure your places. Please note we will normally contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm your booking.

 

Pickering’s Choice… Saturday 19th July

Chef Peter PickeringWe have decided for our first official dinner in our restored home to host a special dinner on Saturday 19th July. (if demand sufficient then we will also do Friday 18th July)

We have invited a guest chef to launch our new venue and we will be joined by Peter Pickering a 27 year old chef who is a young lad to watch. I have known Peter since 2009 when I was appointed his mentor at Oxford Brookes University in his final year of study before he graduated in May 2010.

He has since gone on to work in some prestigious places from the 5 star Milestone Hotel in London to the Broadcasting Centre for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to the opening of “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal” with Ashley Palmer Watts, The Café Royal relaunch in late 2012  and then more recently the Chiltern Firehouse the new André Balazs Hotel in late 2013 working alongside Chef Nuno Mendes. A truly impressive pedigree.

I have asked Peter to put together a menu to relaunch the new Hari venue and we will be hosting a five course menu that will reflect his experiences in some pretty amazing restaurants. I will be acting as his commis chef and it will be as much a learning experience for me with modern techniques and imaginative flavour combinations! Very exciting!

Peter’s menu will be as follows:

Menu

Grilled little gem salad, Nuns of Caen, marinated button mushrooms, soy and sherry dressing

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Seared Cornish mackerel, poached rhubarb, pickled shallots, borage

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Cotswold white chicken, confit heart, onion and horseradish, spring greens

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Chocolate mousse, passion fruit jelly, milk and lemon thyme

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Hari’s Selection of Farmhouse Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Coffee with Homemade Shortbread

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Arrival 7:30pm – Welcome Drink & Canapés

Dinner 8:00pm – prompt

Suggested Donation £50 person – service not included

If you wish to attend then please complete the following booking form. It will be a single table seating 14 persons in total and we will be allocating places on a first come first served basis.

We look forward to seeing what we hope will be some new and old customers!

All about the service and the food… some reviews…

Well we are now just a few weeks away from the summer solstice – it has been nearly six months since our home was badly flooded and we had to evacuate. It has been a stressful time as we have battled with inefficient and frustrating processes conducted by loss adjusters and the insurance company, plus a rogue builder has meant we have yet still to move back home.

We have held a few private dinners and we have also conducted a couple of dinners in homes loaned to us for the purpose.

We have also used the time to go and try a few places to eat and thought as opposed to one review we thought we would lump them all together and give you a taster to perhaps try them yourself…there have been some real gems!

Alimo – Whitstable –  Tel 01227 272725

Well I had a very enjoyable lunch here with the imitable Jules Serkin who is the host of the Scoff&Quaff weekly Internet radio show. She has some amazing contacts and is a bubbly (Prosecco induced) lady to lunch with. With tales of her new husband and such like one can say lunch was certainly not boring. Alimo is a bit of a gem and I will have to go back. Located under a railway arch on the way into Whitstable from the Thanet way it has a vaulted ceiling and slightly themed Middle Eastern decor to transport your to the Kasbah or desert tent!

Alimo

I was impressed by the food we consumed as there were some sound cooking and authentic flavours – everything from some well flavoured lamb koftas in a mildly spiced tomato sauce to a zingy fresh Quinoa Salad and some tasty if a tad slightly overcooked (and sinewy) Lambs Liver with an almond sauce and creamy chick pea and potato mash. It was the manager Andy who served us and he was a great example of professionalism matched with great social skills and I guess contributed massively to the whole experience.

It is a place I am now keen to go back and sample yet again perhaps for dinner

Jo Jo’s – Whitstable  – Tel :01227 274591

photo (180)I am a big fan of this place and found myself eating here once again when celebrating my birthday. It is a gem of a place serving some great food that is well designed to share with family or friends. We had everything from the sharing platter of meats and assorted dips to the goujons of fresh fish to some amazing monkfish cheeks in a light beer batter to finally a massive meringue topped with a fruit compote or a salted caramel and brownie coupe that we enjoyed immensely and required us to take a brisk walk afterwards to try and aid the digestive system. If you have never been I implore you to try the place. It is so worth it!

Bills – Tunbridge Wells -Tel: 01892 548699

Me and the Mrs had been having a bad day with all our house woes and needed cheering up and we found ourselves in central Tunbridge Wells outside the newly opened Bills. It took over the site of Dame Tartine that had been a popular place and used weekly as the venue for a twitter gathering called Twuttle. photo (174)

We entered a pretty busy and crowded establishment and were shown to our table swiftly and politely and then a young waitress took our order and duly went about her business. We tucked into some Deep Fried Squid rings, tender and crisp, a pot of honey glazed sausages and some goujons of fish that were a little dry and tasteless. It was however the desserts we tucked into that provided a memorable finish. A lemon meringue coupe and a giant chocolate Jaffa cake that was very rich but scrummy.

The Vine – Sevenoaks –  Tel: 01732 469510

This former pub on the northern approaches to the town has undergone a great deal of “TLC” and beautification and is now something that could be described as a swanky place for the residents of Sevenoaks. I know the chef well here and have followed his career over the past few years from a new gaff on the outskirts of Maidstone to a gastro pub in central London. He is a Glaswegian that has spent most of his working life in the south but has not lost his accent one little bit, he can also cook some pretty amazing food as well.

I was eating here for a couple of reasons but what struck me was the simplicity of blending a cheap cut or inexpensive ingredient with something luxurious. It shows clever and photo (175)diligent purchasing matched to a creative eye of detail.

We kicked off with a black pudding scotch egg with a gorgeous soft unctuous egg yolk and then some fresh local asparagus topped with a crispy fried poached egg and some fresh morel mushrooms – a truly mouth-watering combination. It reminded me of a dish that I used to cook in Switzerland many years ago. Slowly poached calves tongue that was then thinly sliced and served with a brandy and morel cream sauce with a finely shredded vegetable garnish.

Next was a slow cooked pork belly and pork cheek served with an apple puree, boulangere potatoes and my dining guest tucked into a pan fried fillet of sea bream with a masterful potato puree charred leeks and truffle sauce. We ordered an extra of some truffled mash that just reeked of the fungus and we were told the peelings and nubs are used in this to ensure nothing is wasted, gosh it was so good…

A couple of desserts then followed and we were done – the Strawberry Parfait was a total triumph as a yet to be added to the menu and as I dropped my guest back at the station I felt we had consumed a very well executed and clever lunch. It will be another place I urge you add to the list to try.

Crabshakk, Glasgow  – Tel: 0141 334 6127

A few days after my visit to Sevenoaks I found myself some four hundred plus miles away from there in the centre of Glasgow. It was to be a fleeting visit with Mrs HC and teenage daughter who was off to see her idol Katy Perry in concert. I was to meet with an old friend who I had not seen for some twenty years and we headed off to the West End of Glasgow to have dinner together.

I had originally planned to go out for dinner with him at a swanky Asian restaurant as we both love this style of food but for reasons I kept from him had to change to this place. He initially said to me are you sure you want to go here as like myself I had looked at the menu and thought it was all pretty basic and not really selling itself to me via their web site or for that matter by the reviews on Trip Advisor.????????????????????????

Well a lesson to learn from this is never judge a place before you try it yourself. We arrived at the appointed time and were pleasantly surprised to be warmly greeted and shown to our table in the upstairs section of this minute and buzzy place. It’s simple decor and cramped tables all add to the flavour… clever use of every available square inch is made.

Service was slick, friendly and informed and we tucked into some stunning food. A specials blackboard boasted two of my most favourite seafood, Razor Clams and John Dory which had to be consumed and as we reminisced over lost friendships and past good times we became more and more contented with our enforced change of venue.

?????????It is a gem of a place where the seafood is so fresh and correctly handled with simplistic preparation and garnishing. The razors clams served with surf clams and a chorizo butter sauce were to die for and the John Dory well that cam e served with a celeriac puree and some puy lentils that provided an earthy dimension to the sweet flavour of the fish. Well worth the 800mile plus round trip!

A simple Panna Cotta with minimal garnish and a cheese board with ripe cheeses well explained by a bubbly pair of waitresses completed a truly magnificent meal.

So if you should ever find yourself in the region this place is a must… just make sure you book it as it is popular and do not believe all that is written about it – except by me!

Terroirs, London  – Tel: 0207 036 0660

This place is one of may favourites and located just a stones throw from Charing Cross station it provides a perfect watering hole should you need sustenance before jumping on a train to Kent! I chose this venue to have dinner with some Swiss friends visiting the UK for their summer holiday. Having done the tourist bit with them – a wander round Borough Market and then a cruise up the river and a wander round Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens we needed sustenance.photo (177)

I chose this place as a venue for it’s simple no fussy and informal atmosphere and as the friends are also appreciative of some good wines I felt this would fit the bill and it did so in so many ways.

It was not too busy when we arrived (they had emptied from the pre theatre crowd) but it soon filled and got busier. It has a bar counter with seats and closely packed tables and an open to view kitchen area allows you to see the chefs beavering away.

photo (176)We settled down to some competent and well judged cooking, A duck rillette with toasted sour dough was as usual a real triumph, a smoked duck breast and green bean salad with a soft boiled egg was also a light fresh starter but for me the best was yet to come. Grilled bone Marrow with a parsley and caper salad was as one of Swiss friends remarked as good as eating fresh foie gras and now is converted to a dish they were sceptical of trying. The main courses we consumed were boiled salt beef Pot au Feu a great classic that was comfort food at it’s best and a Sea Bream fillet served on a bed of samphire with Jersey Royals and a great saffron infused rouille sauce.

A great bottle of a biodynamic red wine from Italy was a real enjoyment and as I bid my friends fare well and jumped on a train to Kent they headed back to their hotel before setting off next morning to tour the west country.

Years ago we were hard pushed to recommend places to eat – now spoilt for choice it makes deciding where to eat a tough one – they have had a fantastic tour and we meet again in a few days for a couple of days before they head back home. I am confident they will go home still in love with what the UK has to offer!

The Kentish Hare, Bidborough – Tel: 01892 525709

photo (178)This place opened about 4 weeks ago and so is still finding its feet – I had heard mixed reviews on the place operated by a couple of celebrity chefs. James & Chris Tanner both local lads had worked in assorted places before heading west to Plymouth. They have now been tasked to turn this pub atop the Bidborough ridge into a food destination and asset to the village.

Well my visit was certainly whilst a fleeting one was impressive with some assured cooking and I have to say it was good to see the place was pretty busy for a Thursday lunchtime and whilst the clientele were predominately of a more senior nature the young staff still finding their feet seemed to be doing a good job. I will return and perhaps give it a more in depth test. The chicken liver parfait consumed was smooth buttery and generous portion size with its own little mini fresh white loaf. The Smoked Mackerel salad with salad leaves and toasted croutons was a good light starter

Main dishes of Skate Wing with sautéed jersey royals and green beans and the Duck photo (179)Confit with salad leaves were enjoyable and well executed. The cheese selection we then shared a good test to see how serious they are was I have to say a shade disappointing. The Kentish Blue the only local cheese and was the best served. A cheddar was OK but an unripe and nondescript Brie was a let down, good presentation with crackers and a piece of membrillo

A couple of small local Tonbridge brewed beers and the bill for just over £60 was fair for the offer but I suspect the extras and more alcohol could rack up the bill a good deal more. It has a great garden area to the rear and the decor within is airy light and due to hard surfaces a bit noisy when full but there are some nooks and crannies where you could hide yourself away for a more peaceful time. I will be back!

So there will be more revues soon plus we will be announcing dates for Hari dinners as well so watch this space!

Happy Eating

Hari C

 

Sorry for the Silence…

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I cannot believe it has been some two months since my last post.. my apologies…

We are still awaiting to move back to our flood hit home but the end is in sight. We hope the next two weeks of frenzied activity by builders, decorators and such like will result in a fresh exciting new venue. Please watch this space as we will be posting new dates for some exciting dinners over the next few months.

We will also be posting some revues of meals out we have had over the past few months as they provide some great inspiration of what we could also offer.

Some of the pictures show the work in progress and we are lucky to have a great bunch of workman helping to restore our home.

Thank you to you all for your patience and understanding…

Cheers

Hari C

Where’s the service…?

I recently paid a visit to a local newly reopened garden centre that has undergone a major capital expenditure and boasts a new restaurant called “Kitchen”.

Now call me old fashioned but to me a restaurant is one where one expects a level of service and there now seems to me a real movement in these type of places to make the experience totally devoid of all service.

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We the customer are herded into slow moving dithering lines bombarded with choice and herded like sheep to a till where there is a lack of social interaction with the customer as they are tasked to fleece you of your money as quickly as they can.

The amount of money they have spent here to make the place look stunning and it has given it a real sense of theatre but the one thing lacking was for me a real basic. Service.

I absolutely abhor the self service concept these and many like minded places adopt and their argument is they are cheaper to run as staffing levels are less. Well as a customer I can tell you they are totally wrong.

From the moment we arrived they had staff plentiful all looking as though they were busy but the whole concept was flawed as they did little to direct the customer as to how to order their food. A small queue to pay at a till ensued and the hot food ordered duly got cold – another pet hate.

They were not that busy and I could imagine it would be carnage when they are.

The local butcher that has a major concession within the food hall showcased his sausages on the menu and whilst they might look good they were pretty average and tasteless. Items in the food hall that tempted my wife could not be purchased and eaten in the restaurant… where’s the logic in that?

My wife in a wheelchair had no way of independently gathering her desired purchase and payment as there was no where to place her tray – obviously no thought had been given to this sector and for that matter for a single parent with young children as well would similarly struggle to collect their food and make payment.

An open plan kitchen revealed a plethora of staff and management seemed to be visible and hands on but for me it all lacked a soul or character. It looks fabulous but failed to deliver a memorable experience. If it had been mine a smaller menu and full table service approach would have made this place something to be proud of and very memorable.

It can be done, they should look at a place not that far from them called the The Twig and Spoon. It very nearly went the same route but a last minute ownership decision to provide full table service meant they have created something far more pleasurable and commendable than yet another self serve nondescript cafe.

Who ever makes these decisions might think on paper they look good but operationally they need to think the process through as to what sort of customer service do they truly offer.

They have totally missed an opportunity to provide a unique and I am sure very profitable eating establishment…maybe one day they will learn or perhaps there will be customer revolution and the masses will rise up and boycott them… then again!

“Carne Argentina Unica” or CAU to you and me…

Well it was with some excitement I had a booking in the newly opened restaurant CAU in central Tunbridge Wells. I had known the property for quite a few years and had been instrumental in possibly it’s first incarnation as an eatery when it was a travel agents & restaurant as “Travel 101″ before then becoming a Burger King. Then hence a variety of eating and drinking establishments.

I think now as CAU there has obviously been some “Blue Sky” thinking and the makeover of the premises has undergone is major – Blue Sky with clouds murals on the walls and modern cloud shaped lamps over the bar counter along with some pretty funky contemporary decor and lighting. Black tables with black and white leather swivel chairs all add to the funky and modernistic decor.

The open plan kitchen provides a sense of theatre but at times a bit of a “blue fug” as opposed to “Blue Sky” appeared as the grilling caused the room to smoke up!

So how was my visit… well having booked a table (very easy and efficient on line with Top Table) we arrived possibly about ten minutes late to find our allotted table was by the entrance door. Not particularly conducive or welcomed – they however changed it quickly to a table in the centre of the room with a good view of the kitchen.

Down to the menu and our choices… Our waiter explained the concept of the Argentinean inspired food with small tapas style starters and then a range of steak dishes as mains. (there are other dishes such as Chicken and Fish for the non carnivores)   We remarked the weight sizes for the steaks seemed huge – the Lomito cut at a whopping 440g and the Asado de Chorizo at 500g and inquired were they designed to be for two people? He remarked normally one person would order and consume! Tunbridge Wells obviously has gargantuan appetites!

We kicked off with a selection of small plates to share… The Belly of Pork Tempura, Empanadas – we chose the spicy ground beef & onion and the Spanish Chorizo & Cream Cheese. Then finally Anticuchos Skewer of Marinated Chicken with Guacamole. Presentation was simple and stylish the tempura was a generous portion of five hunks of tender pork in a crisp batter. The BBQ style CAUchup with it was much needed as we both felt the pork lacked something in terms of flavour. The Empanadas were well made and we preferred the beef one as it packed more of a flavour punch and whilst the chicken skewer was also well executed it was just a touch under seasoned.

Our main course choices were the same with the Tapa de Cuadril – a top rump steak cut into thin steaks just flash grilled. We chose triple cooked chunky chips and a house special of “Causlaw” plus a small side salad to share as the additions. There was also some assorted sauces to choose from as well but with an additional charge. In fact the whole menu might seem initially quite good value but it is all the add-ons that could quite easily bump up the cost per person.

The steak we consumed was OK, not outstanding or that memorable. The seasoning was a little light and whilst the steak was cut thin it was for me very slightly overcooked and some pieces were even tough to eat. Triple cooked chips were OK – again not memorable – the highlight for me was the Causlaw that was made from finely shredded red cabbage.

Overall I have to say it was not a meal that excited us in every way, service was friendly and attentive, check backs were regular and possibly too many requests as to everything all OK. The room is noisy with loud music when quiet and when full of diners the conversation noise drowns out the music.

I however will be going back as it would be unfair to judge totally from this sole visit and when you compare it to their competitor down the road from them in the form of “Côte” this place will be a welcome addition to the town and fulfils a need.

The Argentinean theme is interesting and different but I am not sure whether importing the “Ice Creams” from this said country will go down well with the “food miles conscious” residents of Tunbridge Wells when they have a local supplier of quality ice creams on their door step that could make to their specification.

I will certainly go back “en famille” next time, but for me the jury is still out a bit and whilst I have read good reviews from others I will reserve my final judgement.

It is welcoming to see something else open in the town and I am sure it will flourish especially when you see how busy it was on the night we were there.

www.caurestaurants.com

Raindrops keep falling on my head…

Some of you may not be aware but as of Christmas Eve we were victims of the “Christmas Floods” and our home venue was seriously flooded… Our home was not expected to flood as it was built to withstand water levels akin to those seen in 2000 but on this occasion levels were a foot and half higher so we had some nine inches of flood water in our kitchen and dining area.

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This has provided us with some rather daunting challenges – finding temporary accommodation for my wife and daughter that will be close enough to monitor renovations and then also not impact too much on our lives. We would also not be able to continue with our pop up dinners as this would be contravening our tenancy agreement in our temporary home.

So what is the solution?  Well we felt the best way to spread the word about this would be to turn to you, our existing and potential customers, by laying down the gauntlet.

We will bring the world of secret suppers to you.

The idea is this.  As we have previously done two nights together in our own venue we thought we would do Hari in your own place in a similar way – ideally a Friday and Saturday night with 12 diners each night although we can be completely flexible on numbers and days.  In return we would offer you 2 places free of charge each night we cook at yours.

We are happy to do this anywhere in Kent and will happily discuss the arrangements and appraise the feasibility with you directly.  We already have some very kind offers and will be putting together a diary of events in the next week or so.  We will once finalised then open bookings for all dates so it will be a first come first served!

If you should be interested in providing a venue then please complete the following form and we will contact you directly to discuss in more depth.

Hari Covert

PS The title of this post is because this is currently Mrs HC’s mobile ring tone… she is having a laugh!

Jingle Bells – ’tis the season to be jolly…

Well for our Christmas menu we felt we would not go too festive as I am sure you will all have had enough of the “Turkey and Tinsel” by the time the big day comes. We have only the one night this year on Saturday December 14th as the Friday 13th we have a private dinner.

So what can you expect this year…

We will kick the meal off with some seasonal nibbles and a welcome glass and then for the first course we will serve a home-made Pork Terrine studded with Apricots and served with a simple green bean and toasted hazelnut salad garnish. A home-made relish that will incorporate cranberries will complete the starter to this festive meal.

For the main course we have decided to serve a classic beef dish. We will use beef topside and make what are commonly known as Beef Olives. The thin slices of steak are served with a sausage meat stuffing that is laced with wild mushrooms, a smoked sausage, juniper berries and herbs. Slowly cooked in a rich red wine based sauce it means this is a heart warming and filling dish that will go perfectly with some creamy mashed potatoes and then some braised red cabbage as well.

We will then serve up a selection of cheeses with our porridge oat biscuits and our home-made banana  jam. Cheese selection is normally made up of a Hard, soft, blue and goats cheese – we will just have to see what we can find but will ensure it is a good interesting mix!

Finally to complete the meal it will be what we are terming a “Citric choice”… an unctuous lemon posset of double cream laced with Lemon juice, then a lime and Mascarpone Cheesecake that has a fresh zingy taste with a ginger nut biscuit base and finally some brandy soaked marinated oranges that we will serve with a small scoop of chocolate & wasabi sorbet from Taywells.

To complete the meal with coffee some festive stollen and iced schnapps will complete the meal.

So what better way to start your Christmas festivities. We will then be opening again after the Xmas break in January and we hope to publish a programme soon of what we are planning for 2014.

Saturday 14th December

Arrival 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner 8:00pm

Suggest Donation of £35 per person service not included

Menu

Pork Terrine with dried Apricots

Green Bean & Hazelnut Salad Cranberry Relish

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Braised Beef Olive

Creamed Potatoes

Braised Red Cabbage

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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“Citric Choice”

Lemon Posset, Lime & Mascarpone Cheesecake,

Brandied Oranges with Chocolate & Wasabi Sorbet

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Coffee, Iced Schnapps & Mini Stollen

Menu subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability

FULLY BOOKED – WAITING LIST ONLY

Rhyme nor reason…

Well it was a Friday lunchtime and a sunny day. I had a rendezvous with an old college mate at his new pad and quick show round. This was duly done and we then decided to shoot off somewhere for a pint and bite to eat.

We decided to head down the road to The Poet. The pub is a grade II listed building in the village of Matfield (blessed with several vibrant pubs) and they state the Pub is so called because one Siegfried Sassoon a war poet was born nearby.

The pub was once the village bakery and was previously known as the Standing Cross and also used to boast possibly the best chef in Kent (it used to make me smile but did little to tempt me in!) It opened in it’s current format about 18 months ago.

Now the mate is also in the hospitality business in the big smoke and is like myself always one happy to try a new place. I had heard mixed reviews on the place but thought lets give it a go.

The bar snacks ranged from a Burger with House Chips (however the hand scripted blackboard menu made them look more like topical “horse chips”) at what we thought was a bit pricey £14.50 to a deli board at under a tenner, Ham Hock Croquettes to a bowl of smoked sausages.

We decided to share the Deli Board, Sausages and Croquettes and then about twenty minutes later (they were busy) our snacks duly arrived.

The deli board was a wooden board consisting of a smooth chicken liver parfait and some toasted brioche, some slices of Coppa ham and then a little paper parcel of baked Camembert. On another board a couple of moist but crispy Panko crumbed ham hock croquettes were delivered along with a bowl of some smoky little sausages. The sausages were a Toulouse and a spicy little Chorizo varieties that were perfect with the Old Dairy Top beer they serve on draught.

A couple of bread rolls appeared alongside and all in all this was some pretty good sophisticated pub grub that was perfect for our Friday lunchtime catch up.

It left me feeling I wanted to return and sample the main menu and overall with some unobtrusive and friendly service this is a place was now well and truly on my radar and worthy of a return visit!

Another return visit for a bar snack and pint with the self same friend got me thinking why had I not been back for dinner so with Mrs HC we decided on a child free night to take the plunge and head out for dinner.

Booking could not have been simpler. They use an online booking system I presume for some of their tables (Top Table) and so online I went to secure my table… two minutes later confirmation email came through. Sorted.

The night arrived and off we set, Mrs HC was unaware where we were headed and so there was a good air of excitement and expectation.

The bar was busy with a party of drinkers in full swing but we were quickly guided to our table to the rear and it was much quieter and relaxed as we perused our menus.

The a la carte menu offers a simple 5/5/5 choice of dishes – we were tempted by most but Mrs HC plumped for the chicken liver parfait, one of her favourites, whilst I chose a crispy egg, something I am led to believe is a signature dish.

The parfait was a generous slab, slightly greying with a quenelle of insipid onion relish and some vibrant pickled vegetables. It was well constructed but did woefully lack seasoning as Mrs HC kept reminding me…  Overall it was OK but did not sing out as spectacular, or live up to it’s price tag.

My choice was a poached egg that had been crumb coated and fried to crisp the exterior served on a bed of pea shoots, broad beans and then a pea veloute was served poured by the waitress. Now if the egg was crispy I cannot say as she duly flooded the egg with the veloute so making it all soggy and the egg was more hard boiled than soft poached. Again a lack of seasoning meant it was OK but nothing more. Looked good, with vibrant colours but for the price of £6 did lack something!

Main course dishes next was a Smoked Haddock, Spinach, Samphire, Poached Egg and Hollandaise. Now Mrs HC is stickler for wanting her plate of food to be served hot. It was rather tepid so back it went. Fresh plates when delivered a short while later were good , good plump fish, generous mound of mashed potato, spinach and samphire. A good soft!!! poached egg and well made hollandaise. A classic combination.

The other main course was Roasted Duck with carrot, spinach and a confit duck roll and orange. The duck was perfectly cooked and very tender, a carrot puree and some baby carrots and wilted spinach were good, no discernable orange flavour and the confit duck roll was confit duck wrapped in a filo style  pastry and crispy fried. Overall was a good dish but again it lacked something in terms of seasoning and flavour. The baby carrots were the best flavour of all!

To complete the meal we shared a Peanut Parfait, with as the menu stated, textures of Blackberries. A pretty concoction was presented a creamy parfait with a peanut brittle crumb a few scattered blackberries, blackberry coulis and well made sorbet of said same fruit was good.

As we headed home Mrs HC and I reflected on what had been an enjoyable night out but a meal that alas had not really lived up to expectations. The Blackboard bar snack menu I have to say seemed far more appealing and interesting so the title of Rhyme nor reason sort of sums it all up! It makes no sense that they offer two very different styles of menu and not really deliver on the one they seem to feel is their main offering. We will go back but only for a bar snack!

Autumn cometh…

Well as we head into the autumnal season we thought we would make this months menu truly reflect this time of mellow fruitfulness.leaf1

We are now open for bookings for the chance to experience a secret supper club in our secret location on Friday 11th & Saturday 12th October.

We thought we would offer a menu of some of our favourite dishes that also reflect well the Autumn season.

Arrival: 7:30pm for Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm Prompt

Cost: £35 Suggested donation

 

Menu

Welcome Drink & Nibbles

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Wild Mushroom Risotto with roasted Chorizo

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Roasted Barbary Duck Breast with a tangy plum sauce

Gratin Dauphinoise

Green Beans

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses

with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

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Individual Apple Tart Tatin

Salted Caramel and Walnut Ice Cream

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability

So to kick the meal off the first course will be an earthy flavoured and creamy wild mushroom risotto but will have the addition of some piquant spicy roasted chorizo sausage as  a garnish to the rice to provide another flavour dimension. I love cooking risotto as there is a skill to get the rice slowly absorbing the stock and ensure the flavours all balance, this will be a warming start to the meal and will be a vibrant beginning.

The main dish will be pink roasted French Barbary Duck Breast that will be served with a tangy plum based sauce that will balance well with the richness of the meat. We will serve with his a creamy and garlicky Potato gratin and of course what would a Hari Covert meal be without some Green Beans!!!

We will then serve our selection of cheeses in the French fashion after our main course and this will be a 3/4 different cheeses subject to our purchases along with our Porridge Oat biscuits that seem to always intrigue our guests. We will also serve a spoonful of our homemade Banana Jam!

Finally what could be better to complete this autumnal meal than a classic Apple Tart Tatin. These will be little individual ones of buttery caramelised apples atop crisp puff pastry bases and then served with a salted caramel sauce and dollop of walnut ice cream. A glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes will be served with the dessert and provide another unctuous sweet flavour to complete the meal.

Coffee will be served with our petit fours. The table configurations will be subject to booking numbers but please indicate if you would be happy to share a table or not!

Please make sure you book as early as possible to secure the desired number of places. Just complete the form below. We will normally contact you within 48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number.