Tag Archives: dining

All loved up…

hearts1Well that date is fast approaching when couples habitually inhabit those tables of two’s in a restaurant and look lovingly into each other’s eyes across the dinner table!

You can tell I am a fan of this night of romantic love big time – Not!

It is generally hype to fill perhaps a quiet week night (a Tuesday this year) and dreaded by restaurants when it falls on a weekend night as they fill up in under capacity!

I have such strong memories of a “Valentine Night” in a restaurant I was working in when a couple came in for dinner who had obviously had a row and I think the guy was there under duress.

They ordered two” well done” fillet steaks and requested they be served with peas (we were upmarket and served a medley of vegetables)

confusciusI sent the waitress back with the message “Old Chinese Philosopher Confucius says Man who eats “Meat and Peas” on same plate is very unhygienic”

The waitress thought for moment and then giggled and said I can’t tell them that… I said please try!

Some restaurants get all creative with overpriced pun induced menus using not in season produce – e.g. Asparagus, Strawberries etc or pink coloured foods! I even tried one year doing a Valentine themed dinner here for my Supperclub and found it a tortuous night so vowed never again!

cooking2I am much more in favour of seeing you all cooking something special at home and perhaps pushing the boat out with a meal lovingly prepared for a loved one. It makes much more a statement than splashing out on a substandard meal in a restaurant.

So this would be my suggestion on a good seasonal menu

Ceviche of Smoked Haddock with a Celeriac Remoulade

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Chicken Bhuna (cooked in a Slow Cooker)

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Tangy Lemon Posset

with homemade Shortbread Biscuits

cookingYou will note I have provided links for all the recipes so why not give it a go and impress a loved one and cook them up this special treat… it will not break the bank and I am sure it will impress the other half!

Failing that why not come along later in the month for our February dinner event that we are calling “Game On as we will be featuring assorted Game dishes from Venison to Guinea Fowl.  You can book the dinners here on our dedicated ticketing site!

Alternatively if you what to learn how to prepare these or any other dishes there is always the Covert Cook School where we can help you build your confidence and assist those untapped wooing skills…

Far better than going out with all those other sad ones!!!

Game On… our February Menu

So it has been six years since our last “Game On” dinner when we dedicated the menu to a “Game” themed one.

We felt it was long overdue as winter months are a perfect time to enjoy this much forgotten and often not appreciated culinary treat. So this months menu will feature heavily three types of game.

We will kick the meal off with a Carpaccio of Venison, this is thinly sliced slivers of raw venison loin that we will marry to slices of pickled beetroot and some walnuts all dressed with a horseradish cream.

Next we will serve up a classic risotto that will have the addition of creamed sweetcorn that will then be topped with slivers of roasted wood pigeon breasts and roasted baby corn.  I am drooling just thinking of this!

The main course will be a breast of Guinea Fowl that will be studded with a force-meat of the legs mixed with Prunes. The breast will then be roasted off and served on top of a potato rosti and garnished with a red wine & prune sauce and some wilted spring onions. Then of course green beans will also feature.

To complete the meal we will then serve up a warm bread and butter pudding laced with chocolate and orange marmalade. We will keep it simple by serving it with some pouring cream – just a few extra calories.

Dates: Friday 24th  & Saturday 25th February 2017

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

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

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

Menu

Welcome drink and seasonal nibbles

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Venison & Beetroot Carpaccio

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Roasted Wood Pigeon & Sweet Corn Risotto

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Breast of Guinea Fowl, Prune & Spring Onion

Haricots Vert

Potato Rosti

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Chocolate & Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding

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Coffee, Tea & Petit Fours 

Menu Subject to Market Purchases & Ingredient Availability 

To book your places please click here

What makes a good meal?

Well this is a bit of a deep question to kick the year off and it is some time since I have blogged a post so why not start this New Year with something deep and meaningful!

We were fortunate to have spent the Xmas period in warmer climes on the Canary island of Tenerife.  We have fond memories of previous holidays and even a honeymoon on the Island and we certainly were looking forward to revisiting some old haunts and eating some of our favourite foods on the island.

One dish famous throughout the islands is Canarian Chicken served with Salt Crusted new potatoes. The chicken (thighs & drumsticks) is fried in oil till crisp served with Green (Coriander) and Red (Red Pepper) Mojo Sauces and accompanied by new potatoes that are simply boiled in very salty water until they develop a really white salty crust… simple, honest, and inexpensive food.

Our favourite for this dish was a place called Otello either in the village of Adeje or their more accessible place called imaginatively Otello 2 at the beach area of Playa Fanabe.  Well, we felt on this occasion the beach place failed to live up to expectations and lacked something… the chicken was a little dry and overcooked. The Mojo Sauces were good but lacked freshness, bread was stale and overall when compared to Pago Pago in St Margarida Nr Rosas on main land Spain (See review here) was positively substandard by comparison for roughly the same price!

Another favourite in the past had been an Argentinian Steak House called Rodeo in the area known as Torviscas.

This place is mammoth in every aspect,  a room of gargantuan proportions with a central buffet area laden with assorted salads. Waiting staff dressed in baggy Gaucho style trouser costumes circulated the room with assorted skewered meats or trolleys laden with roasted meats.  The concept is you can eat as much as you want for a one off price!

We have seen locals and tourists tucking in till they are so green with over indulgence they have literally passed out! This time we felt the place had lost its charm and again also lacked the quality of previous visits.  Meat a main constituent of the experience was often chewy and lacking in flavour. In fact overall the place ended up being the most expensive of our visit to the island and failed to deliver value or memories to cherish that it once had.

So what does make a good meal, for me first of all the food has to be memorable, the setting and ambience matched to this as well as service that is both professional and slick all help to add to the experience.

Our last meal on the island was in the village of Los Abrigos just south of the airport in a specialist fish restaurant.(One of many in the village) Grilled Prawns from the griddle plate and some Razor Clams with sunny views across the harbour with a waiter providing attentive, friendly and slick service at a fair price was the perfect finish.

Eating out relies on many factors to make it memorable… the food, the service and the setting are all contributing factors to the memory and I certainly hope we manage to deliver on all fronts with our pop up events. We put a great deal of effort into delivering good tasty food, friendly service and a relaxing ambience for a fair price.

I myself have experienced many a meal that lacked each of these factors and felt very frustrated that they often get the basics wrong.

So with this in mind we kick our 2017 events off with a “January Sale” where we are asking diners to pay a minimum of just £10 per person for three courses of freshly cooked food.  The twist to this is we are asking guests to contribute more if they feel it has been worth it…

We filled out these meals within thirty six hours of opening bookings and have even added an extra session (also sold out)…  Delivering the expectation is a challenge and one we cherish.

We do hope you will come and see what we have to offer during 2017, our raison d’etre has always been good food, good service and good value – simple you may think… come and see for yourself…

Booking for February Events – Game On – opens 9:00am Friday 20th January

Now Booking for Covert on the Mountain – Crowborough Community Centre – Saturday March 25th

An ideal Xmas gift ?

Well with Christmas fast approaching we can announce some exciting plans for 2017 and this might well make an interesting Christmas gift for someone that appreciates their food…

We will be announcing our full line up of dinner dates for 2017 in a few days but a note for your diary will be our planned event for March 2017 that will be a much bigger dinner in a new location for us.

We will be taking secret dining to the town of Crowborough just south of Tunbridge Wells where for one night only on March 25th  we will be serving a four course dinner to guests in the Gallery Community Cafe a space within the Crowborough Community Centre that we will be renting for the evening.

The poster below explains a little more and our booking site for this event will open on Monday December 12th at 09:00am.

Reservation Tickets will only be on sale until Tuesday 28th February 2017 so make sure you reserve your places early to ensure you get in.

To book your places please go to our dedicated booking site for this event here

crowborough-poster

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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“Cuckoo Cuckoo” its April…well nearly!

Well things are getting warmer and we seem to be enjoying longer daylight hours as the clocks are about to change… Spring really has sprung and we are keen to reflect that further in this next month’s menu and event.

cuckooAs the 14th April is deemed to be “St Tiburtius’ Day” when cuckoos start to sing we will be celebrating this event with a suitably seasonal menu!

Following a welcome drink on arrival – “a glass of sparkling perry with the addition of creme de cassis”  served along with some seasonal nibbles we will then as a first course be serving a classic wild garlic pestocombination of wild garlic pesto spiked risotto garnished with some sweet tasting crab meat. I really love making a risotto and the challenge is always to get it creamy and unctuous with a full flavour.

We will then move onto the main course of a pink roasted Rump of Lamb that will be served  with a piquant tomato and ginger sauce and a compote of spring onions. The vegetables served with this will be Green Beans (Haricot Verts) and duck fat baby roasted new potatoes.

Our cheese course next will reflect our market purchases and we will also serve our porridge oat biscuits infused with Ile de Re Sea Salt along with our homemade Banana Jam.

Finally we will complete the meal with our pudding… a Vanilla Panna Cotta, a lightly set cream that will be topped with a compote of fresh Rhubarb and then more than likely we will serve some warm fresh out the oven Butter Shortbread biscuits. A great combination and we hope a fitting end to this month’s meal.velo

Coffee this month will be courtesy of Velo Coffee Company  of
Bearsted – we will be showcasing their freshly roasted single origin coffee from Rwanda. More about that in another post!

Suggested Donation: £35.00 per person (Service not included)

Dates: Friday 15th & Saturday 16th April 2016

Arrival: 7:30pm – Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm – Served

Menu

Crab & Wild Garlic Risotto

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Roasted Chump of Lamb, Tomato & Ginger Sauce

Green Beans, Roasted Baby New Potatoes

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses, Porridge Oat Biscuits & Homemade Banana Jam

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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb Compote,

Warm Butter Shortbread

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Velo Coffee or Tea & Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

To reserve your places please complete the booking form below – we will contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm your booking.

Covert Cook School… it’s back

When we launched “Covert Cook School” in the autumn of 2015 we were not sure what was the best format to pursue.

We feel now the best way forward is to structure the lessons to suit you. We are flexible on dates and the format the class will take… all we ask for is you choose the style of class you have that will then dictate the size of the class so the  number of friends or acquaintances you come with.

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If you want a one to one lesson that is fine – if you want it hands on then we ask for just two attendees. If you want just a demo class then four people is the ideal number.

We will then discuss the content of your lesson and tailor it to what you want to learn. It can be tricks of the trade or perhaps something more complex and involved.  Just remember the lesson will be bespoke to you.

To book your own Covert Cook School please complete the form below or go to the Covert Cook School dedicated page.

2016 Dates…

Happy New Year…

chocs

We have had a hectic festive period and are now recovering from a 1200 mile trip to Switzerland between Xmas and New Year to visit friends and stock up on Mrs HC’s chocolate supplies.

We have now just released some of the dates and themes for our 2016 events.

Do take a look here.

We will be revealing more details soon but our first event at the end of January will be what we have named a sausage fest – we will be serving up cured salamis and for the main course a classic Choucroute with smoked sausages. Menu just in the final stages of tweaking.

February will be the return of a couple of Fondue nights and then we will have yet to be confirmed dates a return visit of Chef But and we will also be taking Hari Covert to foreign shores with a pop up planned in Switzerland at some stage during 2016.

We will be doing a charity alfresco theme in July that will take “Underground Dining” to new heights.

So there will be plenty to keep us busy during the coming year. We hope you will also come and join us.

Please keep watching this space for all the latest news…

Christmas is coming…

photo (144)Well it is that time of year again when we will be celebrating the festive time at Hari Covert’s. It only seems like yesterday we started doing our secret suppers… This coming February we will enter our sixth year of operation!

We love the festive period and we hope we will see you at one of our events…

This years menu will encompass some of our favourites. To kick the meal off we will serve a selection of festive nibbles including a warming seasonal soup! The first course will be a smoked salmon rillettes a coarse like pate that we will serve with a delicate yoghurt santa1and dill sauce and some toasts.

The main course will be a Turkey & Chicken Saute with spicy Chorizo & Peppers that we will serve on a bed of steamed Cous Cous with green beans. A bit different to the traditional roast!

For the dessert we will then serve a Mincemeat & Crumble Tart with a Cinnamon Cream and to then complete the meal we will serve a selection of assorted cheeses with our porridge oat biscuits and a snifter of local “Anno” Sloe Ginsnow2

Dates: Friday 18th & Saturday 19th December

Arrival: 7:30pm – Welcome Drink & Seasonal Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £35.00 per person (service not included)

Menu

Smoked Salmon Rillettes, Yoghurt & Dill Sauce, Toasts

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Saute of Turkey, Chicken, Chorizo & Peppers

Steamed Cous Cous & Green Beans

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Mincemeat & Crumble Tart with a Cinnamon Cream

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Hari’s selection of Cheeses,

Porridge Oat Biscuits, Snifter of Anno Sloe Gin

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Coffee or Tea, Petit Fours

To book your places please complete the form below and we will contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm the booking.

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