Tag Archives: Celebration

“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 !!!

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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

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

Ho Ho Ho – our Christmas Menu now booking…

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As the weather has turned a bit more chilly we thought we would now reveal what will be in store for our Christmas menu.

We have decided to make it a “non Turkey” celebration this year but will however be serving up a crispy Confit Duck Leg as the main course, one of our favourites…

The starter will be a re-working of the potato and black pudding terrine that was served up by Chef Visen at the recent Anno Gin dinner.

We will serve up a warmed slab of a Potato and Chorizo Terrine which we will be served with a smoked paprika  mayonnaise and some toasted salted almonds.santa1

Following the main course some Colston Basset Stilton cheese (a must for Christmas) will be our cheese course. To then finish our celebration  we will be serving a trio of miniature tarts which will include a mini mincemeat one laced with Anno Sloe Gin!!!

This will be a great way to get your Christmas celebrations underway… at the moment we have a private party on the Friday night so only the Saturday night will be available. Please do  book early to ensure you get your desired places.dec

Dates: Friday 16th  & Saturday 17th December 2016

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £40 per person (service not included)

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Ho Ho Ho Its Christmas…

Welcome Drink with Seasonal Nibbles

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Warm Potato & Chorizo Terrine, Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise, Salted Almonds.

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Crispy Confit Duck Leg, Braised Puy Lentils, Haricots Vert

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Colston Basset Stilton, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Banana Jam

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Trio of Mini Tarts

Glazed Lemon Curd
Mincemeat Crumble
Chocolate with Salted Peanut Brittle
all served with Clotted Cream

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu subject market purchases and ingredient availability

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The Itch Dinner… 7 years and counting…

Well what started out as a bit of fun and a way to show how valuable social media advertising and engagement can be we are soon to be marking a bit of a milestone.

We hope we have not been irritating or contagious but believe it or not we have now come November 2016  been doing pop ups for seven years – hence the itch!

We felt a monthly dinner in our secret location would be a great way to demonstrate how we could build a following and develop an idea . So what better way to celebrate at our November dinners than with a special 7-Course tasting menu of dishes we love and we hope you too will savour.

The idea will be to serve this menu of tasting sized portions of some of our favourite dishes. We have developed the concept over the years and we think we have done a range of dinners in some pretty unusual locations as well! In the cellar of the cheese makers at Winterdale Shaw plus the top of Yalding Church roof and even in the private home of Dame Kelly Holmes.

We will kick the evening off with a dish we did some five years ago that we named “A taste of Catalonia” – Roasted Red Peppers  served with Marinated Anchovies and a slice of toasted Ciabatta.

Following this we will serve a freshly made risotto with roasted butternut  squash topped with crumbled goats cheese and toasted Kent cob nuts

Next we will serve a pan fried fillet of sea bass that will be served with a delicate ginger cream sauce. A flavour combination inspired by my friendship with chef But for over 40 years.

The main course will feature some beautiful Kentish Lamb Shoulder that we will slow cook as little individual hot pots and serve with some green beans. These we will garnish with a slice of crispy air dried ham and maybe another little surprise as well.

We then normally always serve our cheese following the main course in the French fashion and on this occasion we will serve our stalwart favourite Winterdale Shaw… the carbon neutral Cheddar from the top of Wrotham Hill.  Our now infamous Porridge Oat Biscuits and some homemade chutney as well.

We will then serve two desserts… firstly a firm favourite with Mrs HC is the Lemon Posset which we will serve with a Raspberry Compote topping and a warm butter shortbread.

Finally the “Damian Allsop”  Water Chocolate Mousse which we hope to serve with a tasting glass of vintage Maury a luscious sweet red wine from the region where we had our holiday home until this summer.

So seven courses to mark seven years of covert dining!

Dates: Friday 25th  & Saturday 26th November 2016

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £45 per person (service not included)

The Itch Dinner

Taste of Catalonia – Anchovy & Roasted Red Peppers

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Butternut Squash Risotto, Goats Cheese & Toasted Cob Nuts

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Pan Fried Sea Bass with a Ginger Cream Sauce

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Kentish Shoulder of Lamb Hot Pot, Green Beans, Bacon Crisp

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Winterdale Shaw, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Chutney

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Lemon Posset, Raspberry Compote, Butter Shortbread

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“Damian Allsop” Water Chocolate Mousse

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Coffee or Tea

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability 

A Wong with Hom…

Now that heading sounds a bit weird I know but all will be revealed…

I am for my sins a graduate from what is now Oxford Brookes School of Hospitality Management (Was Oxford Polytechnic in my days!) at Oxford Brookes University.

I am also actively involved with their Alumni Association and get to go to assorted functions and events their Oxford Gastronomica organise throughout the year.

Well recently one of their esteemed ambassadors was in the UK for Chinese New Year and he was hosting a luncheon at A Wong a much lauded and on trend Chinese eaterie in Wilton Street Nr Victoria Station London. Ken Hom was in town and well I needed little persuasion to book my place at a lunch he was hosting at Andrew Wong’s gaffe!

It was quite an intimate affair with some two dozen diners ensconced in the basement bar of this restaurant. An introduction to the proceedings by head of School Donald Sloan was followed by a few words from Chef Patron Andrew Wong who informed us we were lucky to have him there as he wife was scheduled to have her baby that very day but in fact ended up having their baby on Christmas Day!

Any way we settled down to a real feast with firstly some Dim Sum style starters appeared –  Sui Mai and Har Gau as steamed dumplings. Then a plate of crispy prawn filled Wan Tuns and a Mushroom spring roll coated in Vermicelli… very delicate but also very tasty. The steamed dim sum had some great embellishment The Sui Mai with crispy Pork crackling and the Har Gao with some delicate citrus foam.

Then came a whole steamed Dover Sole – zingy fresh and expertly removed from the bone and garnished with the trinity (garlic, ginger & spring onion) Some lusciously pink prawns with a crispy fried garlic and spring onion topping were beautifully sweet tasting – shame it was only one prawn each!

Next came a Crispy Duck course that had some wonderfully novel twists on the standard restaurant serving. A paint brush came standing up in a shot glass ready to paint the steamed pancake with the Hoisin sauce. The normal cucumber and spring onion garnish was added to by small slivers of smoked duck and then some crispy fried pieces of dried bean curd. It was a clever and well thought out addition that gave the whole dish a new flavour dimension and texture.

Once the duck was cleared away we then had a slight pause before rice bowls arrived and then a plethora of main dishes. First a seared beef dish described as Yunnan Seared 40 day aged beef with mint chilli and lemon grass. (It got demolished before I could take a picture!) A masterful combination that had a real zing and freshness to it with quite an after kick to it.

A bowl of Singapore Noodles then arrived along with stir fried market Chinese greens. Then a really unctuous slow braised pork belly with lotus root and then another bowl arrived with Gang Bao Chicken with roasted Peanuts and a good chilli kick and then apparently a classic new years dish of a rice noodle cake with a bean sprouts. This was a real classic of flavour combinations and textures that was soft and chewy – in fact it was a bit of a “Marmite” dish amongst the other diners but I have to say I loved it.

To complete the meal once all was cleared away wooden boards arrived laden with what looked like little white peaches. These were in fact what could be described as one of Mr Wong’s signature dishes.  The recent Jay Rayner review on the establishment describes the dessert as possibly the best current dessert in London at the moment! It was I have to say quite honestly an amazing dessert. A crispy base to the dumpling that had a gorgeous duck egg based custard  hidden inside a soft delicate casing that beautifully oozed out of the bun as you bit into it!

This was a truly magnificent meal to celebrate Chinese New Year and the company of Mr Hom was equally welcome.  I am in awe of Mr Wong and now am keen to go back… I am celebrating a significant birthday this year and am already trying to plan as many return visits as I can.

My long time friend Chef Kam Po But who has guest cooked a couple of times with me is one I want to eat here with as I know he appreciates Andrew Wong’s talents and knows him well. If anyone wants to join me and But as this is very much a must visit establishment! Please just let me know and I will add you to the list! (You will have to pay your own way though!)

You can tell I enjoyed myself and when I finally left at nearly 5;30pm you just now when it has been a great lunch as much as great company!

Gong Hay Fat Choy

Why a Vegetarian dinner…

When I set up Hari Covert nearly six years ago my plan was to do a new theme every month that I hosted an event. We have pretty well done this and also not had to repeat a menu in that time – we have however repeated or tweaked a dish or two over the years…

We will always try and cater for a vegetarian or those with allergies with our menus when requested. We have also served a complete Vegetarian menu successfully in the past. Our dinners in association with Moodleys Beers where we matched the menu with the range of beers Yudhistra was producing a case in example.

PPSprig is the brainchild of chef Peter Pickering who is keen to put his somewhat stellar CV of quality establishments to use in a new and innovative way where he is also in control of the hours he works.

This time we were approached by his new Vegetarian Supper Club “Sprig of London” who wanted to trial their concept whilst they still look for possible London venues to host their supper club dinners.

We have together put a joint menu that reflects both of our culinary styles and influences. I myself will be doing some of our favourite combinations from our beer bread to porridge oat biscuits that we serve with cheese.

Sprig of London
Sprig of London

The dishes Peter will prepare will be everything from a Brik – the crispy north African pastry with wild mushroom lemon and rosemary through to a combination titled intriguingly Turnip, Radish and Orange. Finally the Sprig of London dessert offer will be Porridge, White Chocolate & Almond Milk. They all sound different and I look forward to seeing the finished dishes and taste them as well.

white logo (500)We are doing these dinners over four nights from Wednesday 18th November and we still have spaces on most nights so please do go and take a look at the full menu and booking form with this link

It will be a fun few nights with some interesting foods and we hope you will realise the absence of meat and in many cases gluten whilst a challenge for chefs is not one that is not to be missed as the food will be tasty and imaginative.

We do hope you can make one of these nights!

All about the service…

Well during the past few months I have had quite a few eating out experiences of both a good and bad nature.  Having made a living out of restaurant reviewing in the past as both an “Egon Ronay Guides” inspector and also an “AA Guides” patch inspector my tastes have developed to appreciate firstly much simpler food where the ingredients provenance takes centre stage.

I have however begun to appreciate far more the service proffered by an establishment as also being an integral part of the whole experience.

I recently found myself for a few days in the West Country and we had a rather posh afternoon tea at a newly opened 5 star hotel – the Afternoon Tea served was £30 a head and whilst generous in proportion was not so memorable for the quality of the offer. Firstly sandwiches when delivered did not match the menu description and the chefs predilection for tomato in them was rather overzealous.

Scones whilst home-made were stodgy and stale, jam and cream was however generous. Cakes and pastries were pretty unimaginative and amateurish – a tartlette case filled with meringue needed the citric base to compensate for the sweetness. A chocolate cake and a caramel mille feuille were also nothing special and the only saving grace was the fresh fruit tartlette.

An apfel strudel with vanilla sauce was also out of place as a tea time treat – more in keeping as a restaurant dessert was also soggy and not in the least bit dainty!

The only saving was friendly and concerned service from a young but professional team of staff who held it all together and helped redeem the food quality misgivings.

A couple of days later we then had a meal in the depths of Cornwall at an establishment in a very busy and bustling coastal town that is dominated by a certain celebrity chef.

We went to his “Bistro” operation for a dinner. It was a return visit since we had had a memorable lunch some nine years earlier. Whilst the food was spot on and highlighted well the great produce on offer from fresh local scallops served with a truffle butter to an amazing combination of John Dory, Grilled Baby Leeks, Soft Boiled Egg and shaved Parmesan  cheese that was an enlightening combination. It was however the service we had that was more memorable. Young staff were engaging, sociable and efficient throughout so much so it was refreshing to watch and made the evening all the more memorable!

The day afterwards at a seaside Cafe we visited for a traditional Cornish clotted cream tea there was a slightly annoying pre-order system at a bar counter and then your order was delivered to your chosen table. Not ideal, but acceptable except what annoys me more is waiting staff who walk past a laden table of a previous occupants detritus that is not cleared by them… somewhat all to apparent at this canal side eatery that whilst popular lacked the slickness of the previous nights dinner.

My other pet hate is the “Nandos” concept of sitting at a table and then being made to go to a till to order and pre pay – My disabled wife has been discriminated before with this concept  and forced to send our young daughter to order and pay. A visit to chain of burger restaurants using such a format was underwhelming and confirmed my favourite style of this eatery is the “poetically named group” found all over London who has continually delivered great service and a very consistent product in each of their places. My daughter is now hooked on them as are all of her school friends.

Whilst eating with friends at one of Mr Raymond White’s bustling restaurants a mistake to our dessert order was handled with great aplomb and apologetic efficiency that left us impressed with the establishment and happy to return at a future date as opposed to a negative and disgruntled attitude!

Our visit to a wonderful restaurant with rooms in deepest north Devon owned and operated by friends admittedly was made more special by the service proffered that was concerned, measured and efficient throughout our visit. From the welcome cup of tea on arrival to a coffee served in the lounge whilst writing up a report to a sumptuous dinner and well cooked breakfast reminded us how committed you need to be to be hospitable and successful. This couple have now done some 15 plus years in their own business and just one look at the positive and glowing feed back on their trip advisor rating speaks volumes for their dedicated professionalism. I am not surprised they are trying to now sell up and take things a little bit easier as they work long hours and very hard to maintain their loyal and appreciative guests! I wish I had the energy and money to invest in their truly lovely place. I thoroughly recommend a visit to see how it should be done.

Whilst the food is important the service can make or break the experience and the rise in popularity of TripAdvisor hated by many a chef in my mind when you read between the lines is a useful tool to ensure you do not waste your money!

I can thoroughly recommend the following as they provided some truly memorable meals and service over the past few months… I will not bore you with the not so good!

St Petrocs Bistro

Blagdon Manor

Byron Burgers

Restaurant Aquar’aile

Fowl Feast…our September menu

Well it has been a very hectic Summer for us… apologies for my tardiness in posting and getting our menus up to date. Will reveal a little more on what has been going on in a separate post.

So for our September menu on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th September we will be offering what we term a fowl feast… to kick the dinner off we will serve a smooth unctuous Chicken Liver Parfait that will have a homemade Onion Chutney with it. A classic combination. For the main course we will then serve a crispy Duck Leg Confit that will have a selection of roasted root vegetables and a tart redcurrant sauce with it – it is a rich dish to remind us that the Autumn chill is just around the corner!

We will then serve a selection of cheeses with our homemade porridge oat biscuits and Banana Jam

To complete the feast we plan to serve a glazed lemon curd tartlette with a compote of fresh blackberries and a dollop of clotted cream – fresh French pressed coffee as they say across the pond with some homemade peanut butter butter fudge should round it all off

If you wish to reserve your spaces then please just complete the booking form below and we will normally contact you within 24/48 hours to confirm your reservation with a credit card number

Arrival Time: 7:30pm – Welcome drink & Seasonal Nibbles

Dinner Served: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £35 per person (Service not included)

Menu

Smooth Chicken Liver Parfait served with

Homemade Onion Relish

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Crispy Confit Duck Leg with Roasted Root Vegetables and a Redcurrant Sauce

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Hari’s Assorted Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Glazed Lemon Curd Tartlette with a

Blackberry Compote & Clotted Cream

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Coffee & Fudge

Independence Day… Happy 4th July

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Well I cannot believe it has been two years since we last attempted a totally alfresco dinner… we will endeavour to  do so again this year (weather permitting) and what better day than to make a night of it on Saturday July 4th when we will serve up an American themed dinner in our garden terrace setting.

We will welcome guests with a drink and some simple nibbles (monkey nuts and freshly popped corn very likely!)

We will then serve up a couple of platters for dinners of loaded nachos and some spicy deep fried chicken pop corn that will be shared out on each table.

For the main courses we will then serve up either a Texan spiced pulled pork burger bun or freshly grilled Salmon Fillet bun with a dill sauce all served up with freshly dressed slaw and French Fries. The choice is yours…

To complete what we hope will be a fun night we will then serve you either a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream and pecans or a Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sauce. Simple fare that we hope will get the party started.

Finally we will then serve what across the pond they call French pressed coffee with home-made peanut butter fudge.

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation: £30.00 per person (Service not included)

 Menu 

Loaded Vegetarian Nachos

Popcorn Chicken with Hot Salsa

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Texan Pulled Pork Burger, Slaw & String Fries

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Grilled Salmon Sandwich with Dill Sauce, Slaw & String Fries

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Home-made Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sauce

or

Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

& Toasted Pecans

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Coffee & Peanut Butter Fudge

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Please complete the Booking Form and we will confirm your spaces normally within 48 Hours