The Butchers Block, Burham – a review…

Well it has been many a year since I have visited this establishment in its previous incarnation as the Toastmasters Inn.

About three months ago it reopened its doors following a major refurbishment and renamed the Butchers Block… a reference to its provenance of being owned by a butchers family.

I have to declare at this point I have a big affection for this place as I spent some of my earlier culinary years at this place and worked alongside the proprietor who was something of a mentor to me and instilled a real passion for cheese if nothing else.

The place has been beautified and decorated in a pleasing way but it is the menu that for me speaks volumes about their aspirations and aims. It is obviously and rightly very meat centric (considering their connections) and features a meat cabinet in the dining areas entrance that displays some really good looking hunks of ageing beef.

The menu highlights for both lunch and dinner are steaks and prime cuts from a T Bone to a Cote de Bouef or Fillet with the classic accompaniments. These all come with a price tag that whilst not eye watering expensive they are not such good value as perhaps lesser known cuts would be. Why not feature a Jacobs Ladder or a bavette. Especially on a lunch menu where a diner wants to eat more quickly as they are time constrained and also price sensitive.

It is a continual debate even in high end restaurants in the big metropolis that you can eat a highly accoladed meal for far better value for lunch than dinner.

The Butchers Block is really missing a trick here and need to rethink the offer. It should be a shop window for what to expect for the more formal dinner service and in particular special occasion diner.

So what did we eat – well we did not fancy a paddle (wooden board) Ploughmans, charcuterie board or fish platter but craved something a little more substantial and the burger whilst tempting had been our menu choice the day before on a visit to Windsor.

So we opted for Fish & Chips a pub classic and then a Steak and Ale Pie – both priced at £12.90 seemed to be the choice of the majority of all the other diners as the Steaks were all prices at double this amount.

A wait of just on one hour from when we had entered the place was our experience before our food arrived. It was not busy and I felt the kitchen was struggling to cope to produce what was pretty basic fare.

Fish & Chips arrived on a wooden board (a modern trend that needs to be discouraged) and was duly sent straight back to be put onto a plate as Mrs HC wanted to eat it off a hot plate!

My Steak & Ale Pie came served in a bowl shaped plate – better than a board but again not my favourite receptacle shape as the cutlery has a tendency to fall into the centre if ever you rest it on the rim! Much was made of the fact the pastry case was short crust and the top was puff pastry and whilst tasty with a well cooked inside filling the gravy boat with extra sauce was much need as it required some extra lubrication, the accompanying  mash and vegetables with it were not so pleasing.

Gritty baby carrots and then sugar snaps were nestled alongside a mash potato that had a stale flavour that was close  to turning.  The pie was I suspect not made in house which for £12.90 was not really good value. I was hungry so ate it and did not fancy an hours wait for a replacement.

Overall I had and expectation that this place would deliver something far better than it did. It could be described as very average and the fact they have access to high quality produce they could execute it all with more flair and imagination.

Service was also lacklustre and in need of polish. There seemed no urgency and classic example of lack of communication between the husband and wife team resulted in us being overcharged for our two small glasses of wine. Quickly rectified when pointed out however the landlord did not seem to posses the social skills to back it all up.  Not a natural front of house so left us feeling it was all a bit amateurish.

It had been many years since I had been in the place and I guess it will now be many more years before I will want to make a return visit… says it all really.

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Fancy a dinner on us?…

It has been sometime since we have held a competition so we thought we would have one now.

It is very simple to enter, we want your recipe for your favourite Autumn dish.

What for you epitomises this lovely season? It can be anything you like.

To enter all you need to do is email us your recipe at covert.hari@yahoo.co.uk with the phrase Recipe Competition in the subject line.

We will then look at them and test the best ones and then pick a winner which we will share with you all in our November Newsletter.

All entrants will then go into a free draw to win a free place at our next event in November where they will be invited to attend and have  their dinner on us!

So simple – just send us your recipes as soon as possible

Closing date is Friday 20th October at 5pm

You can also send more than one recipe and increase your chances!

 

October Fe(a)st…

Well, we thought for our October event we would highlight a few of our favourite dishes and try something a bit different as well.

It will take place in our home venue only on Saturday 14th October so spaces are limited.

We will kick the evening off with a welcome drink and some seasonal nibbles… We love the challenges of providing something tasty and topical to our diners and seeing them explore some new flavours or experiences!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

We will, for our first course,  do a classic Chinese inspired starter… Bang Bang Chicken Salad. This is cold poached shredded chicken that is dressed with a peanut butter and sesame dressing. My friend Chef Kam Po But has taught me well (Please watch this space – for a return visit from him… we are working on it)

Next course is a bit different…instead of our normal cheese course we thought we would serve a fish course so will be serving a pan fried salmon fillet garnished with roasted beetroots and a beurre blanc (butter sauce) flavoured  with horseradish – a simple combination that should provide some great complimentary flavours!

Beef Olives

The main course will then be a dish we have done before – a classic beef olive… a slowly braised, rolled & stuffed top rump steak served in a rich stout sauce. We will serve this with some creamed potatoes and a classic braised red cabbage – a truly comforting flavour combination with the beef olive!

Finally, an Orange Polenta Cake served with Greek Yoghurt and runny local honey will be the way to round off what will be a great autumnal feast.

We do hope you will join us for what we are calling our “Fe(a)st” and we will also have soon our plans for November and December to complete yet another year of “Covert” dining.

We are now taking bookings and request a £5 deposit per person to secure your places with a balance of £30 per person required on the night.

We just ask you to complete the form below and we will call you within a 48 hour period to take your booking deposit over the phone and confirm your places.

Time : 7:30pm Prompt for welcome drink and nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £35 per person service not included

Menu

Welcome Drink &  Seasonal Nibbles

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Bang Bang Chicken Salad

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Salmon Fillet with roasted beetroots and a horseradish beurre blanc

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Slow Cooked Beef Olive with Stout Sauce

Creamed Potatoes

Braised Red Cabbage

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Orange & Polenta Cake with Greek Yoghurt & Local Honey

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu Subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability 

Just 99 days left in Twenty Seventeen…

So for our September pop up event we thought we would do just the one night as we have had a mega busy month so far and well we need to recharge our energies a tad.

We will do just the one night on Saturday September 23rd which believe it or not will then be just 99 days away from the end of 2017… where has this year gone we hear you all say.

We will kick the evening off with a welcome drink and some seasonal nibbles and then our first course will be a autumnal favourite of a freshly made risotto with roasted butternut squash, goats cheese and some toasted Kentish cob nuts.

Main Course will be another firm favourite of a pink roasted Barbary Duck Breast served with a plum sauce and served alongside a classic Gratin Dauphinoise and some ubiquitous Haricots Vert…

Cheeses

Next in true Hari tradition a selection of cheeses… our infamous porridge oat biscuits and some chutney (we have been making a few recently and will see which fits the bill best)

Finally to finish another autumn classic an – Apple Tart Tatin served with a generous dollop of creme fraiche and we will also include a snifter of Muscat de Rivesaltes – our stalwart dessert wine from the south of France!

Tea or Coffee will finish it all off with a Petit Four (or five) …

We are taking bookings now and request a £5 deposit per person to secure your places with a balance of £25 per person required on the night.

We ask you to complete the form below and we will call you within a 48 hour period to take your booking deposit over the phone.

Time : 7:30pm Prompt for welcome drink and nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £30 per person service not included

Menu

Risotto of Roasted Butternut Squash, Crumbled Goats Cheese & Toasted Cobnuts

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Magret of Barbary Duck with Plum Sauce, Gratin Dauphinoise, Haricots Vert.

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Hari’s Cheese Boards, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Homemade Chutney

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Apple Tart Tatin,  Creme Fraiche & Glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes

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Coffee or Tea, Petit Fours

Menu Subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability 

Chicken vs Pork

Well almost two years ago one of our customers came along to our “Fowl Feast” dinners and kindly bought us some sample packs of chicken crackling to play around with.

It was all the brain child of Robert Jebb an Ad Man who has spent a considerable amount of time and I would think money perfecting the product that was initially called “Fowl Scratchings”

Well it has just had a relaunch and it has already gained some notable  exposure as it is being used by chef Simon Hulstone at his London Pop Up in the John Lewis department store… It is a great little product and highly addictive.

Little “Bobby Jebb” as he is now marketing himself as has also recently posted a clever promotional video that has certainly captured the spirit of this new product. 

Check out the video here and if you fancy purchasing then just head over to their shop on their web site…

http://chickencrackling.com/ Please tell them Hari sent you…

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells…

I have been highly amused by the rantings of a one Steve Wynne a resident of Tunbridge Wells who is something of a “media mogul”.

Steve along with his wife Hanna and a friend are planning to have a regular rant on a whole series of topics.

The first one is on “Driving” and the second is on “Shopping” and I have to say I do agree with some of Mr Wynne’s rants so think I must have some of his disgusted tendencies.

I look forward to their podcasts now and hope they pick the subject of “Eating Out” as one of their rants as I am sure it will be a rich vein to tap into.

I just hope they do not use their experiences of eating at a “Hari Covert” event – but then again I would be proud to feature as I am sure the publicity would be worth the pain!!!

My old boss Egon Ronay always said even bad publicity if used well and managed effectively could be useful.

Keep on ranting Steve and Hanna…

Check out their Podcast here 

End of the world is nigh…

Well it seems Monday 21st August is a total eclipse of the sun in the USA and a partial one in the UK/Europe so we thought for our August dinner we would host an end of the world dinner!

The plan is to gather together like minded individuals who wish to celebrate what historically was sometimes seen as an omen or good portent for the future.

Wars stopped, some even thought it was the end of the world… well in this case it will just be the end of another Hari Supperclub dining night and we would hate for you to miss out on it…

It will take place on Saturday 19th August in our home venue (all will be revealed to diners once you have booked) Diners will be served some simple seasonal nibbles with a welcome drink on arrival and then as a first course we thought a simple salad of summer leaves along with a garnish of freshly grilled squid and king prawns in a garlic butter dressing.

Next we will serve a Teriyaki marinated and baked fillet of fresh Salmon with a garnish of rice noodles and Chinese Pak Choi. A light summery dish that we hope will match the summer mood.

Finally the dessert this month will be a summer favourite – Jelly & Ice Cream but one with a bit of a twist. It will be made using our local Elderflower Vodka from Anno, local fresh raspberries and some homemade Strawberry Iced Parfait served with a warm homemade shortbread biscuit.

Finally we will serve freshly brewed Coffee or Tea with a homemade Petit Fours

We trust it will not be the end of the world after the upcoming eclipse but why not come along and enjoy a sunny supper with us… booking can be made via our booking site from Monday July 31st 9:00am  so do not forget to set those clocks /alarms to make sure the end is not nigh!

Date: 19th August 2017

Time: 7:30pm Arrival with Welcome Drink Dinner from 8pm

Venue: Hari Covert’s secret home venue  (diners will told a week beforehand where to come to)

Cost: £10 Reservation Deposit via our Ticketing Site Here  £15 Balance payable on the night (service not included) cash preferred.

Drinks: Bring your own drinks to consume with the dinner – water and glasses will be provided on the tables.

Menu

Assorted seasonal nibbles with a welcome drink

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Dressed Summer Salad leaves with Grilled Squid & Prawns in garlic butter

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Teriyaki Marinated Baked Salmon Fillet with Rice Noodles & Pak Choi

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Anno Elderflower Vodka Jelly with Kentish Raspberries with Iced Strawberry Parfait, Butter Shortbread

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Our next dinner event…

Well with only just less than a week left to book your places for our July Pop Up we thought we ought to explain a little bit more the thinking behind this dining event.

Back in late March just before it finished I joined up with chef Peter Pickering and a few other chefs for a lunch on the roof of Selfridges in London where we were to sample the WastED concept by Dan Barber where the menu highlighted foods that were wasted inspired.

From cod’s heads to kale trees, broccoli stems to reconstituted stale bread or juice bar pulp it was a feast made out of food that would have been wasted and was totally thought provoking.

So fast forward to now and our plans for the upcoming dinner. Hari & Peter are busy sourcing products of waste to put together a menu to delight the diners.  We have just 30 spaces and we need all these spaces sold to proceed as it is a mammoth task that will take a great deal of planning and creativity to excite you all.

We have plans for those cheese scraps in everyone’s fridges, overripe fruit that goes in that compost bin to even the whey from a local cheesemaker that gets fed to their pigs or is just flushed down the drain… If you are intrigued as to what we are going to be serving up just reserve those places as  soon as possible as without those reservations we cannot start making those commitments to the suppliers and put the final touches to the menu. It will be a veritable feast that will we are sure be a real equally thought provoking and hopefully get you all talking about food in a new light…

We might even have the odd bottle of HP Sauce to embellish it all and make it that bit more palatable… #justkidding

More details and Book Here

 

TWYard Sale…

Well this initiative by the  “Popes of TW” is a really simple and great idea. Nick & Ingrid saw something similar whilst on holiday in the US and thought it would translate well to the their local community in Tunbridge Wells.

The have tirelessly put together a simple website where an “X” marks the sellers pitches and allowed now some 100 plus to easily sign up and take part. They have both leaflet dropped the town and distributed some 10,000 of them to spread the word and now with just a few days to go there is much excitement and anticipation.

I felt I somehow had to take part in this and am pleased to say I will be joining up with a couple of pals on their pitch at TN1 1JP where I will rock up with my paella kit and cook a fresh big pan of the stuff and serve up to anyone who fancies a refuel whilst they browse the assorted sellers stalls.

The pan holds circa 40 portions so it will be very much a first come first served situation and all profits from the sales will be donated to local charities. I will even take payment with a credit card if you have used up all your cash on other sellers stalls so no excuses on not selling out.

Lets hope the weather stays fine and warm and this will become very much an annual community event for the town. Well done to Ingrid & Nick for such sterling work… now just form an orderly queue for your paellas!

HP (Hari & Peter) Sauce… the cheek of it…

Well for the July dinner event we are doing something just a little bit different. Hari will be joining forces with Chef Peter Pickering.

Peter is a London based chef who has a veritable who’s who of a culinary training. He has trained under Michelin starred chefs the Galvin Brothers and was part of the opening teams at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Café Royal and also with chef Nuno Mendes at Chiltern Fire House.

Hari and Peter will for one night only be planning and cooking a 4/5 course menu (dependent on purchases) that will & can only be revealed on the night for a very good reason…

wastED – Selfridges London

The inspiration behind this dinner was a very thought provoking lunch that Hari & Peter were lucky to sample together at the “WastED” concept earlier in 2017 that was a pop up on the roof of Selfridges department store in London.

We also plan to highlight produce from local producers and utilise often neglected and forgotten items such as fish scraps, cheese whey along with misshaped fruit and vegetables as well as excess supermarket stock that would just be wasted and disposed of.

This concept is the brain child of the American chef Dan Barber that wowed packed houses of diners for a five week pop up residency of innovative food following over a year of planning by the Selfridges team putting it together.

Hari & Peter (HP) will also look to source (pun intended) as much local produce that is deemed to be waste by the food & retail industry (you will be surprised what this entails) and create an innovative and tasty menu.

There will be an inordinate amount of planning and cajoling of suppliers that will go into this event and the menu we will be able to cook will be subject to what we can eventually find.

Peter Pickering

There will only be thirty dining places up for grabs. Plus we can only proceed with this event if all these places have been reserved/sold by 5pm on Wednesday 21st June.

If not all sold by this date then the event we are sorry to say will have to be cancelled…there is too much risk and uncertainty to rely on late or last minute bookings.

Please note if we unfortunately have to cancel then full refunds will be made for the booking deposits made so there is no risk on your part to make those reservations!

We do hope you will support us with this very unique and exciting event… our culinary brains are already working overtime to come up with dishes that will excite you and provide much discussion.

Go on be brave and join us for a “journey of culinary discovery”

Date: 1th July 2017

Time: 7:30pm Arrival with Welcome Drink Dinner from 8pm

Venue: Crowborough Community Centre , Gallery Community Café

Cost: £10 Reservation Deposit via our Ticketing Site Here  £30 Balance payable on the night (service not included) cash preferred.

Drinks: Bring your own drinks to consume with the dinner – water and glasses will be provided on the tables.

N.B. Reserve by 5pm 21st June (all 30 places will need to be sold) otherwise the event will not take place.

Kent's first Underground/Secret Restaurant…