Hola Battersea…

We are bringing our Covert dining to an exciting new venue in central London.

The Battersea Design Works is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Alastair Jessel (Formerly Taywell Ice Cream) He has recently just opened a new Co- Working space on Battersea Park Road  where a former stone shop has been converted to house 30 work stations for those wishing to have all the trappings of an office without the financial hassle of office rents etc.

The space has everything you could want plus as an added bonus a beautiful Mediterranean style garden to the rear where we will be cooking up a large pan of  freshly cooked Paella serve up a welcome glass of Sangria and finish the whole thing off with some fresh English Strawberries and cream.

All are welcome to attend this special one off night  to see whats on offer and maybe even do a spot of Networking with like minded co workers?

To book this event all you need to do is head on over to their website to reserve your places. Bring a friend or two as well and lets make it a real party atmosphere…

Battersea Design Works Thursday 6th June  18:30 – 20:30

To Book your places please go directly via  this link

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YCPS Take 6 Chefs Charity Dinner

We are helping to organise this big charity dinner on May 23rd – at the Oaks Restaurant in the MidKent College Maidstone working with the six chefs tasked to cook and serve a special 6 course menu to a sell out crowd.

The charity has just launched a Virgin Money Giving Page where the final 4 places that are up for grabs can be won via a prize draw. The final table is located within the kitchen beside the pass so in amongst all the action with the hustle and bustle.  If you fancy trying to bag the table then a simple £5 donation will suffice to get your name into a virtual hat…

This is a very unique event and one that will ensure the charity can continue to support the fabric of the church in a bustling village community.

To be in the virtual hat then make your donation here 

A hot date in Ramsgate with “Harrison Ovens”…

THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT

For our March event we will be moving to a rather quirky venue in the town of Ramsgate!

We will be using the ”Harrison Ovens” industrial workshop  where they hand build a thing of beauty in this seaside town.

Daniel Thumwood the creator of the oven builds these much sought after pieces of kitchen kit that can now be found is some of the UK’s top kitchens and are now being exported to further afield as well.

We will be using their workshop demo kitchen as the venue for this month’s event and we will also be using their oven to showcase how versatile the oven is to cook with. We are planning to cook the whole meal using the oven wherever we can.

We are doing just the one night on Saturday 16th March. The first floor demo area overlooks the workshop and whilst it is a very basic space we will have enough space for just twelve diners and Daniel along with his wife Natalie will be on hand to tell the story behind their quest to bring charcoal cooking to the best professional and domestic kitchens. We also suggest guest wear warm clothing if the weather is chilly as there is little heating in this industrial space!

We will kick the evening off with some seasonal nibbles and a welcome drink before we will then serve the first course. A classic Elizabeth David inspired recipe of a Piedmontaise roasted red pepper stuffed with tomato, garlic and anchovies that will be slow roasted in the oven – we will then serve garnished with some Jamon Iberico and some good hunks of our now infamous Beer Bread… again we will cook this in the charcoal oven !!!

Our next course will be a  roasted field mushroom cap that will be topped with a light smoked haddock mousse – cooked in the oven this will we hope intensify the smoked flavour – we then serve this with a simple a root ginger flavoured beurre blanc sauce.

For our main course we will roast wild garlic pesto crusted lamb rumps direct over the charcoal embers to impart a good crust and smoky flavour sealing in those juices – a wedge of creamy potato gratin dauphinoise and then my ubiquitous green beans as garnish with the meat will complete this dish.

Next we have then decided to serve a classic savoury – using Kentish Winterdale Shaw a carbon neutral unpasteurised cheddar cheese from the top of Wrotham Hill that we will use in a classic welsh rarebit served on a slice of sour dough bread.

The final course will be something I tasted when I paid a visit to Daniel & Natalie in late 2018 to see the workshop… I test baked a loaf of my beer bread and Dan made his banana loaf that was exceedingly moreish and to die for.  A slice will come garnished with salted caramel roasted banana and served with a good dollop of clotted cream to round it all off… a fitting indulgent ending to the proceedings.

You are invited to bring your own drinks to consume with your meal – we will provide glasses, ice buckets and waters.

You will be sharing spaces on the two tables so this will be a fun night of like-minded foodies who we hope to introduce to the world of covert dining.

Please use the booking form below to reserve your places – we will then send you a booking deposit payment link to confirm your reservation.

Date: 16th March 2019

Arrival: 7:30pm

Dinner:  8:00pm Prompt

Venue: Harrison Ovens Ltd, Unit 2 Sharpes Place, Ellington Road, Ramsgate CT11 9TD

Price: £35 per person (a £5 Booking deposit per person to confirm your places – Balance owing payable in cash on the night)

Menu

Welcome Drink & Seasonal Nibbles

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Piedmontaise Stuffed Red Pepper served with Jamon Iberico & Beer Bread

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Roasted Flat Field Mushroom topped with a Smoked Haddock Mousse, Ginger Beurre Blanc

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Roasted Lamb Rump with a Wild Garlic Pesto Crust, Gratin Dauphinoise, Green Beans

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Winterdale Shaw “Welsh Rarebit” on Sour Dough Toast

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Banana Bread, Salted Caramel Banana, Clotted Cream

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu Subject to Ingredient Availability and Market Purchases.

Please use the form below to make your booking – we will email you a secure link to pay your £5 per person confirmation deposit. The balance owing is payable on the night with cash.

A walk on the wild side…

For our April event we will be taking the “Hari Covert” secret supperclub concept to a new venue for us and one we are extremely excited to share with you all.

We will be hiring the Oaks Restaurant located on the MidKent College campus in Maidstone. This is a lovely venue with a ultra modern dining area and a kitchen back of house that we cannot wait to use as it has some state of the art equipment. We are also using it to give the students  enrolled on catering courses the opportunity to work with us and gain first hand experience of working with some seasoned professionals. It is also a bit of a dummy run for the charity event we are also organising and hosting at the college on May 23rd.

Our event is for one night only on Friday April 12th  and we have named it a “Walk on the Wild Side” as we will be featuring Foraged Wild Ransom (Wild Garlic) that we will pick ourselves and then use in the main course, a delicate vibrant green soup that will see the addition of a smoked haddock quenelle and a soft boiled quails egg incorporated with it. We will also serve our homemade beer bread with some whipped chipotle butter.

The main course will see slow cooked pork cheeks shredded and reformed to resemble a brownie shape and served with a spicy “Mole Sauce” (Chocolate chilli sauce ) then the addition of a piece of crispy pork belly served with a roasted apple sauce and a garnish of wild garlic mashed potato and braised red cabbage.

To complete the meal we will offer a choice of either our favourite local cheese “Winterdale Shaw” – the unpasteurised carbon neutral cheese from the top of Wrotham hill.  Makers Robin & Carla Betts have been making this cheese now for over ten years and you can purchase on a Saturday morning direct from the dairy shop or locally from selected Waitrose Supermarkets and assorted food halls as well as other cheese stocking emporiums. We will also serve our now rather infamous Porridge Oat biscuits with it as well.

The alternative choice to the cheese is a homemade Orange Polenta Cake served with a Marmalade Coulis and a whipped mascarpone cream.

To round things off we will then serve either coffee or tea with some simple petit fours to complete your “covert” meal.

There will also be a licensed  bar with a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks available for purchase on the night direct from the college.

PLEASE NOTE – BRING YOUR OWN IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THIS NIGHT

Date: Friday 12th April – The Oaks Restaurant – Mid Kent College Campus, Maidstone Kent

Time : 7:00pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 7:30pm prompt

Price: £30 Per Person (service not included)

Drinks Choices payable on the night at the Bar

Menu 

Wild Garlic Soup with Smoked Haddock Quenelle & Soft Boiled Quails Egg served with  Homemade Beer Bread & Chipotle Butter

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Pulled Pork Cheeks, Chocolate Mole Sauce,  Crispy Pork Belly Roasted Apple Sauce, Wild Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Braised Red Cabbage

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Winterdale Shaw (Local Cheddar) & Porridge Oat Biscuits

or

Orange Polenta Cake, Marmalade Coulis & Mascarpone Cream

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Please use the form below to make your booking – we will email you a secure link to pay your £5 per person confirmation deposit. The balance owing is payable on the night with cash.

“Choice or No Choice” – that is the question?

I was discussing with an old friend the other day the modern restaurant trend to provide set menus with no choice and whether being this dictatorial is a step too far for the customer.

When I set up “Hari Covert’s” my menus have always in the most been a no choice affair and we will to a degree cater for allergies or dietary requirements where we can.

I can think of a few places in Kent who operate a set menu no choice or very limited menu policy and my friend bemoaned the one he wanted to go to was inflexible in its approach. Not only did he have to book so far in advance to secure a table there was not an alternative if you did or could not eat what was on offer!

He had some friends who went and were given a “bloody” pigeon breast that basically they could not eat and it has put him right off.

My argument would be do not go if for some reason you cannot be open minded enough to try even if no choice!

Now this for me is a major turnaround from the young lad who would not eat any meat as child unless it was chicken breast and was a very fussy eater!

Chefs today have to be so clever and so flexible to deal with so many food fads and allergies it does not surprise me to see them offer limited or no choice menus. It not only makes commercial sense it also is a very big challenge to come up with something to suit all tastes, palates and dietary needs.

Planning for the YCPS Charity Dinner in May has been a challenge not only trying to get the dishes out of the participating chefs but also to make the menu fit for all tastes.

In fact one likely attendee said to me recently  when I revealed the menu to them that they would not be able to eat the first course as it would contain an ingredient they could not stand – “just more for my partner”  they remarked (a good attitude to have)

Open mindedness is vital when partaking in a set or very limited choice meal and whilst I equally have foods I am not so keen on I always try to keep a really open mind to what I am being served.

It always use to annoy me when inspecting restaurants, especially Asian to be told the Chinese or Japanese scripted specials on the table were not for the “Western tastes”. Let me make that decision please.

Very true on one occasion when I ordered a “raw squid marinated in the bile of its own intestines”… mind you the crispy salmon skin on another occasion was a revelation that I still fantasize over.

So I thought it would be good to conduct a poll… let’s see what you all think (up to 2 answers allowed) and do feel free to comment about some of the surprised revelations that you have eaten and even your own food hell’s that you wish you hadn’t !!!

Fondue Nights at the Bicycle Bakery…

We are back in Tunbridge Wells on the 22nd & 23rd February for a pop up at the infamous Bicycle Bakery… Makers of some amazing Sourdough Bread and classic pastries. We thought how could we showcase their expertise and we thought why not use their Sourdough bread with a classic Swiss Cheese Fondue and a dessert inspired and produced by owner Jamie Tandoh – A yummy sounding Warm Coconut Arancini served with a fresh pineapple & cardamon salsa.

To kick the evening off we will serve a welcome drink with some simple nibbles and the first course will be a simple leaf salad garnished with “Kent Collection” cured Salamis and toasted walnuts whilst for vegetarians we will substitute with goats cheese & beetroot.

The fondue shared on each table (8 persons) will be made with an amalgamation of three Swiss Cheeses. Emmenthal, Gruyere & Appenzeller slowly heated with white wine & garlic and if the whole table are in agreement we will add some dried cepes to the fondue to give it a woody & earthy flavour much loved by the Swiss.

We recommend to drink with the meal you pick a dry white wine or a chilled beer as red wine with its tannin’s can cause the cheese to knot in your stomach and cause cramps. We will provide Ice Buckets and Glasses on the tables.

Just sixteen places each night (two tables of eight so you will need to share) will keep it intimate and a great way to meet new people.

To book your places please complete the form below and we will email you an invoice for a booking deposit of £5 per person (refundable if the event is cancelled) This will need to be done to secure your places.

We ask guests to arrive at 7;30pm and we will serve up at 8pm

Dates: Friday 22nd February & Saturday 23rd February

Time : 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Price: £30 Per Person (service not included)

Menu

Welcome Drink & Simple Nibbles

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Leaf Salad with Kent Collection Cured Salamis & Toasted Walnuts

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Swiss Cheese Fondue with Bicycle Bakery Sourdough Bread (addition of dried Cepes if all in agreement on the table)

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Coconut Arancini with a Fresh Pineapple & Cardamon Salsa

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Coffee or Tea

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability 

 

We are back…

OK it has been a hard slog but we are pleased to announce that we are now ready to start offering our home venue for Pop up events once again and our first one is now scheduled to take place on Saturday January 26th.

The leg gets stronger everyday and we are excited to be back at the stove and hopefully cooking up a storm.

We will kick this first event off with a four course menu for just the one night. We will start with a welcome drink and some simple seasonal nibbles on arrival and then the first course will be a homemade Pork and Apricot Terrine served with a homemade chutney.

Next we will serve a roasted Duck Breast served with a “Pepper Club” sauce… this is a cream based meat sauce flavoured with piquant green peppercorns and sherry soaked golden raisins. We will serve this with appropriate vegetable garnishes according to market purchases.

Our ubiquitous cheese course will feature on of our favourite seasonal cheeses as it only produced during the winter months  – a Vacherin Mont D’or which is an unpasteurised soft cows milk cheese from the Jura region that is wrapped with spruce bark.

Finally to finish the meal off we will reproduce a dessert we first learnt over forty years ago when working in Switzerland. A gateau “Audrey Hepburn” – this cake was allegedly one of the film stars favourites and is fundamentally a light flour less chocolate cake served with whipped cream and then my addition of some tart raspberry compote helps to cut its richness.

Coffee or Tea served with some petit fours will complete the meal. We will have just twelve places up for grabs so please book quickly as we suspect this will be a popular event considering this will be our first event since June 2018 !!!

Just complete the booking form below and we will email you a secure link for a £5 Booking Confirmation Deposit payable on line. We then request you to pay the balance owing on the night in cash. We will provide water and glasses on the table . Bring your own drinks to have with your meal.

Dates: Saturday 26th January 2019

Time : 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Price: £40 Per Person (service not included)

Menu

Welcome Drink & Seasonal Nibbles

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Homemade Pork & Apricot Terrine with a homemade chutney

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Roasted Duck Breast “Pepper Club”

Seasonal Vegetables & Potatoes

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Vacherin Mont D’Or with Crackers

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Chocolate Gateau ” Audrey Hepburn”

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability 

Please use the form below to make your booking – we will email you a secure link to pay your £5 per person confirmation deposit. Balance payable on the night with cash.

2018 What a year…

Well as we now approach the end of the year we can say 2018 has been a year of ups and downs… We would firstly like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your custom and support. It has been much appreciated.

The second half of 2018 has been very challenging whilst I have recovered from a broken femur and at times I had felt very frustrated I was unable to offer my services to you. I can now say that it has given me time to reflect and plan what we will be doing in the future and I do hope you will join us at one of our events as we get much pleasure in providing good food and ambiance.

We have just posted our 2019 dates up to June that will take place in a variety of venues and we could well be adding other dates at our home (secret) venue as well so watch this space. All events are open for booking and we will also be posting more details of menus and prices nearer to each event. If you wish to reserve your spaces now please just complete the booking form on our Events Page .

We hope you have a great festive season and it brings you much joy and happiness. We are excited to get cooking again in 2019 and hope we can welcome you all to our table and a fine meal at some stage.

Merry Christmas

Hari Covert and his team

Kym’s Restaurant, London – a review…

For those of you that know me well will already know I am a big fan of Chinese food and have long loved the diversity and subtleness of this style of cuisine.

We have done a few special dinners with my friend Kam Po But who for many years was the Executive Chef at Ken Lo’s Memories of China.  A couple of years I was introduced to Mr Andrew Wong the chef patron of A.Wong in Victoria (just down Wilton Road beside the station) It was a mind blowing lunch hosted by Ken Hom and I have tried many times to go back to sample what is now deemed to be Michelin star worthy.

I recently had a meeting planned in London with a group of chefs to discuss an upcoming Pop Up in aid of charity that is planned for May 2019 but due to assorted reasons there was only one chef available to make the meeting so we decided to go and try Mr Wong’s new place in the city.

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Kym’s Restaurant is located in the Bloomberg Arcade just across the road from Cannon Street station so for me still hobbling on crutches it was an easy journey.

I met with another chef who was also keen to sample what this place had to offer as there had been some magnificent reviews since opening just 4 weeks previously. I had heard good things from several sources and seen some stunning food pictures on my Instagram feed from assorted trusted diners so had high expectations for my visit.

We arrived just after 1:30 pm a little earlier than we had booked as we were hungry. Greeted at the door we were welcomed by a charming hostess who informed us the table was ready so off we set and sat down literally in front of an open plan kitchen area. Menu place mats got the old gastric juices flowing as we sat trying to decide what to sample. Andrew Wong’s statement centre and proud states they focus on the “Ancient craft of Chinese roasting and on the assorted regions of China”

Well choice was hard and my fellow chef colleague stated he could have eaten the whole menu “but that was just being greedy” Friendly service staff suggested we pick 3-4 dishes from the Small Plates section one from the “Share Section” and one from the “Classics” plus a “Side” and a “Fritter”… what was then fatal was another staff member walked past as we were giving our order with another table order- a “skewer” dish of Tiger Prawns that we decided we also had to try so added this last minute.

So as we sat back with a small carafe of white wine from Crete we soaked up the atmosphere and buzz of a busy bustling restaurant that seemed to have found its feet very quickly.

First dish to arrive was a side of Pickled Daikon… pale yellow in colour decoratively arranged on the plate with a dribble of what was a fiery chilli oil… perfect palate tantaliser! Then almost immediately followed by Pork & Shrimp Bao Bao… a dish reminiscent of “Spanish Eggs” as the light as a feather filled dumplings were surrounded by soft yolked fried eggs and Pat Chun sweetened black rice vinegar and chilli all served in a sizzling skillet pan. An amazing dish.

Next to arrive was what was described as Lemongrass Salad – some skewered little gem leaves of lettuce with thin crispy fried skins and a zingy lime chilly crispy shallot dressing that truly enlivened the taste buds – It not only looked stylish but tasted divine.

Then came our Tiger Prawn skewers that were encased in what seemed like crispy rice coating and a sweet chilli dipping sauce, good meaty and sweet tasting prawns. The small plate bowl of Lotus Root Chips were a revelation of crispy distinctive looking crisps that were coated in a sticky fermented chilli bean, honey sauce that seemed to conclude the first half of our order.

We then moved onto the much lauded French Beans Fritters encased in a light ethereal batter of such delicacy then with the addition of chilli, spring onion and black pepper a nod to Salt & Pepper spiced dishes nestling in its crumpled grease proof paper base.

We could not omit a classic roast pork Char Sui made with delicate and tender Iberico Pork as this came with a Honey and Soy dip for added flavour punch.  With this we then had the  Sichuanese Spiced Aubergine that was totally melt in the mouth.

We then felt we should then sample a dessert or two, or three… they have a choice of three and to be honest as luck would have it they had sold out of one of them… The Sunny Egg Tart!

We therefore just had to try the other two on offer The Hong Kong Bun with Custard and the Raspberry Sorbet with a White Chocolate Strong Cloud. Of the two we liked the raspberry sorbet best with the warm white chocolate and the cold sorbet married beautifully.

This was a very accomplished meal for a restaurant so fresh on the scene and the staff were really friendly and engaging. I would love to try the Sunday Brunch as this is a way to sample a good proportion of the menu along with limitless wine (for 2 hours) – what better way to spend a Sunday.  Go try it I urge you…

In the blink of an eye…

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On June 12th a little incident happened in my home that has impacted my daily routine in a big way.

At about 10:30am I stood up from my desk and walked to answer the front door intercom and in the process managed to slip on a slightly damp tiled floor. What resulted was a left leg at a funny angle an emergency ambulance being called and rushed to A&E

It aspired my already dodgy left leg with a false knee cap ligament and then a previously broken left ankle has a new ailment – namely a displaced fracture of my femur that then required surgery and resulted in a stay in hospital for ten days.

My previous hospital incarnation 25 years ago with the knee ligament was a period I had tried to erase from my memory as the lasting memory was the food was so dire and inedible.

Well I can report even after the intervention of the likes of celebrity chefs James Martin and Llyod Grossman and a host of foodies and a plethora of consultants the food is still shit. In fact I will go further and say totally inedible with no attempt to make it in any way tasty or exciting.

Three days prior to me finally going down for an operation I was ‘Nil by Mouth’ from breakfast till dinner so hunger was setting in and even a simple sandwich or a so called ‘Cornish Pasty’ were abominations of culinary skills. Dry stale sandwiches shipped in from Bradford and a pasty with under-cooked pastry and filling with more resemblance of dog food.

On the fourth day I had to resort to a local chef friend popping in from his place of work with a plate of something edible as the thought of the NHS offer was so depressing. His Roasted Cod Fillet with Brown Shrimps and some seasonal vegetables was a real treat that was eagerly consumed.

I can honestly say over the ten day period there was only one palatable meal that I could say was edible – namely a chicken curry with rice and peas.

Breakfast was repetitive – toast of bread or a bowl of cereal – never eggs – toast always cold and cardboard like.

So where is this leading – I have nothing but praise for all the front-line staff who cared for me or were responsible for my surgery etc. The catering however was not in anyway worthy of a good word. I appreciate they have to cater for large numbers in a challenging environment and with assorted dietary needs – as one Vegan/Vegetarian pointed out to me no chance and if you were Coeliac. I reckon prisoners get better food than was dished up to me.

I feel the whole food issue within hospitals needs a total new approach and  thought process – It requires radical change and an innovative approach. In fact as an organisation the NHS expertise lies in well being, medical etc and simply not providing nourishment. So why even try ?

Our Government demands the NHS becomes more efficient with the resources it gets I wonder what impact it would have if catering was removed totally from their remit and given to external providers? A discussion worth having perhaps – what says you?

Kent's first Underground/Secret Restaurant…