Tag Archives: Local Produce

Ding Dong Merrily on High…

Ho Ho Ho… our Christmas 2017 Menu is now all decided and we are open for your bookings.

We felt we should be pretty traditional but at the same time in line with our “Quirky” status adopt some slightly more edgy festive ideas.

This year we will have decked our dining area with assorted festive bling. We will then kick the evenings off with a welcome drink and assorted nibbles.

The first course we will serve will be a classic smoked salmon rillettes – a homemade coarse pate that will be served with a horseradish cream and some classic melba toasts.

Main course will be turkey but this we will be done as a thin breast escalope studded with a fresh sage leaf and then a slice of cured ham served with a delicate sweet sherry sauce and then accompanied by a classic potato gratin and the veritable green beans.(Haricot Vert)

Next we will serve a selection of cheeses with our now infamous porridge oat biscuits and then to round the whole meal off we will make a Christmas Pudding Parfait that we will serve with a red berry compote laced with local Anno Sloe Gin – a perfect boozy and indulgent finish to our celebratory meal. 

So why not join us and book your spaces via the booking form below.

Dates: Friday 15th & Saturday 16th December

Arrival: 7:30pm 

Dinner: 8:00pm – Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £35 per person.

A £5 Reservation Deposit by credit/debit card will be taken on confirmation of  your booking. We normally call you within 24/48 hours

We then request £30 cash per person on the night (N.B. service not included)

Menu

Festive Welcome Drink & Nibbles

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Smoked Salmon Rillettes, Horseradish Cream, Melba Toasts

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Turkey Escalopes “Saltimbocca”

Green Beans, Potato Gratin Dauphinoise

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Hari’s Selection of Festive Cheeses

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Iced Christmas Pudding Parfait,

Red berry & Anno Sloe Gin Compote

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Coffee or Tea served with Mini Stollen

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Pot Luck 2…

We had a highly successful event earlier this year when we ran a sell out series of dinners and a lunch where we decided the menu subject to market purchases. The menu was only revealed when diners sat down to eat.

We also set the minimum donation of just £10 per person and suggested diners pay what they thought it was worth.

With Christmas fast approaching and everyone thinking about the festive season and counting their pennies, we have decided to repeat this offer next month.

We hope we can tempt you all to come and try us out.

We have some exciting food ideas and plan to serve a seasonal three course dinner. This time cost will be £5 per course (making it a minimum of £15) with customers able to decide what they feel the meal is worth! – a great way for you to experience what our supper club is all about!

So if you are feeling brave and want to partake of this event then please do complete the booking form below.

Please note this will be very much a “first come first served” on the booking front so do not delay in booking. You can, at that time, let us know if you have any major allergies or dietary requirements as this will help us in the planning of the whole menu when we come to make our purchases.

pot-luck-2So who is up for a bit of “Pot Luck 2” secret dining? If you have never been now is your chance to be surprised!

To reserve your places just complete the form below and we will contact you within 48 hours to secure your booking by taking a credit/debit card payment deposit.

Dates: Friday 17th & Saturday 18th November

Arrival: 7:30pm 

Dinner: 8:00pm – A three course menu will be served

Suggested Donation: A £5 Reservation Deposit per person secures the first course.

We then request a minimum £10 cash per person on the night will ensure you get the other two courses  – we will happily accept more if you think it has all been worth it. (N.B. service not included)

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.

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 

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!

Flaming June…cooking with fire

So we must be a bit mad in the height of summer moving our Pop Up concept to Rochester and the showroom of The Stove Hub where we will be converting their showroom space into a Pop Up space for two nights!

On June 16th & 17th we will be using their Charnwood wood fired stoves to demonstrate their cooking potential as well as cooking alfresco in the front of the showroom over our gas fired pans as they have no kitchen for us to cook with! We do so love a challenge.

We will have to rent in tables, chairs and crockery to set this dining space up so it will be a major undertaking but we think something a little different…

To kick the evening off we will welcome all with a complimentary drink and some simple seasonal nibbles – some of which will be cooked on the wood fired stove top!

The first course will be a simple salad that will be topped with a piece of marinated fish (that we will cook on top of the wood stove)
Next we will then serve up a dish cooked alfresco in our large paella pan… Moroccan Spiced Chicken will be married to some green olives and home preserved lemons and served with some minted cous cous and bowls of dressed salad leaves… All will be prepared before your very eyes to ensure it is all fresh tasting and in true pop up style with an element of theatre!

Next we will then serve our little individual cheeseboards with a selection of cheeses and our now infamous porridge oat biscuits.

To complete the meal we will then serve up a classic summer dessert of Eton Mess… homemade meringues with Kent strawberries and cream… a perfect summer pudding.

With the coffee we will then griddle some shortbread biscuits on top of the stoves and garnish with a dollop of homemade lemon curd and a fresh raspberry… a great way to finish what we think will be a truly unique event in a very “quirky venue”

Guests are invited to bring their own drinks to consume with their meal and we will provide glasses, ice buckets and water on the tables.

You can reserve your dining places via our ticketing site here

Dates: 16th & 17th June 2017

Where: The Stove Hub, 86 King Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1YD

Time: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation:  Early Bird Tickets before May 30th £30 person after this date -£40 per person (service not included)

Menu

Griddled Marinated Fish with Dressed Salad Leaves

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Moroccan Chicken, Green Olives, Preserved Lemons

Minted Cous Cous

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Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Biscuits

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Eton Mess with local Kent Strawberries

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Coffee or Tea, Griddled Shortbread with Lemon Curd

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availabilty

May Madness… Pot Luck again

Following on from the success of our dinner events back in January with what we called “Pot Luck” we are going to repeat the format at our May 13th dinner that will take place at the Crowborough Community Centre in their Gallery Café.

It will be a seasonal menu that will kick off with a welcome glass and some simple nibbles and then we will serve up a three course menu that will also involve an element of theatre!!! You will only find out the menu on the night! We will however aim to cater for any dietary needs like Vegetarian/Gluten Free wherever we can and as long as requested when making the booking.

We are requesting a £10 per person reservation fee when you book and then on the night a minimum donation of £10 per person – however if you feel it was worth more then please feel free to leave more in the table envelopes (cash preferred)

As with all our events you are invited to bring your own wines/drinks to have with the meal and we will provide glasses, ice buckets and water on the tables.

We hope you will come and join us for this “Covert” dining experience… just look at some of the comments left in our guestbook from our last visit to this venue…

To book your places just head over to our ticketing site here

We look forward to welcoming you all to our Pot Luck again event that will be a little bit of May Madness…

Gastro Boast…

About two years ago I was involved with a very enjoyable charity fundraising dinner over in Essex with a group of other chefs… It was a hugely successful evening and we managed to raise some significant monies for two smaller charities close to the lead organisers heart.

One of the chefs involved (there were five) was a hunk of man in name and stature by the name of Jack Boast. He was at that time working for the Galvin brothers at one of their central London places.

Jack has now moved out of London to the depths of the Essex countryside. He is now based in Chelmsford and he is now heading up one of the Galvins latest ventures a Gastro Pub called The Green Man in the village of Howe Street Nr Chelmsford.

This former derelict pub believed to date back to the 1300’s in parts has undergone a major refurbishment and extension that is thought to have cost circa £1 million.  What has resulted is a bright and airy building that can serve in excess of 200 diners on a busy day before they even start to open the extensive gardens in the summer months.

Jack has put together a menu of some tried and tested classics such as Fish and Chips or Sausage and Mash. But equally there is much more on offer from this talented guy. Locally reared pork, wood fired oven dishes to grills. There is much on offer to tempt…

We visited on what we thought was a busy Saturday lunchtime… Jack assured us it was relatively quiet this day but can get very hectic. The place was buzzing when we arrived and as we sat down at our table our friendly waitress and young staff were working full pace to serve all.

We were on our way to Colchester as we had tickets for the theatre that evening so this establishment fitted the bill perfectly as a stop off on the way up…

We tucked in to some really good grub… Mrs HC was in raptures with her bowl of Wild Mushroom Soup that was unctuous and full of flavour whilst I myself went with the roasted heritage beetroot that were served with mixed salad leaves and a creamy & generous garnish of crumbled local Goats Cheese. Tried and tested combination that got us both salivating for more!

Mrs HC on the set menu had chosen the smoked haddock fish cake topped with poached egg and some creamy leeks… perfectly balanced and well executed.

I myself went for Grilled Calves Liver and Bacon… this was a generous slab of liver that was perfectly grilled still pink and tender – some crispy rashers of streaky bacon and crispy fried fresh sage leaves all nestling on a compote of onions… just perfect with a little
bucket of triple cooked crispy coated fries with floury centres!!!

Dessert from Mrs HC’s set menu was shared with two spoons… a classic arctic roll of vanilla ice cream encased with a light sponge and gratinated Italian meringue and some segments of blood orange with candied peel.  A perfect finish…

We sat there thinking why had we not got something like this more local to us… Mr Boast stuck his head out and then showed me round quickly his domain… it was amazing to think they had just had a relatively quiet lunch service (it seemed busy to me) but were expecting to do in excess of 200 customers that night  – there was a real calm and focused intent from the kitchen and elsewhere around the place…

Something they can “Boast” about is they have got things pretty well right since opening and already have got a loyal following … we certainly are looking forward to going back… just wish they were this side of the Dartford crossing!!!

Galvin Green Man – Howe Street