Easter Bank Holiday Friday April 6th saw the second outing for ClandesDine, a secret supper club for discerning food and fun freaks!
The ‘secret eaters’ had to call a special number on their ticket to discover the location, which turned out to be a cosy little works on Queens Rd, known to locals as Haggler’s Corner, now revamped to house artisan workshops, a yoga studio and a cafe.
Unfortunately the capricious April weather saw the event retreat from the al fresco surroundings of the courtyard to a long wooden-beamed room indoors. However this atmospheric space had the benefit of a large bar, ably presided over by everyone’s favourite bar meister; Mr. Okie Dulo.
The loft room was soon humming with merriment as the guests tucked into canapés and glasses of sparkling wine.
Proceedings were occasionally interrupted by the sound of an electric drill as our barman Okie Dulo found alternative means of opening bottles, following the disappearance of the corkscrew.
Next in line was a starter salad of freshly picked Mixed Leaves (from chef Richard Henderson’s own garden), served with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and edible Spring Flowers.
Downstairs, in the shell of the future cafe kitchen, Richard magicked up a seasonal multi-course lunch on a small cooker, two camping stoves and an oil-drum barbecue.
The forty diners could choose one dish per course from a choice of three dishes for each of the three courses.
A popular choice for many was the Native Oysters, the first coming Au Natural and the second with a Tabasco-based Bloody Mary vinaigrette. Both were great but the third little bivalve, doused in a sublime coriander and lime juice dressing, was the star. Certainly a taste epiphany for this writer!
Another delicious starter option was the Calf’s liver, perfectly cooked (still tender and bloody) in butter and sage and served with butter beans on the side, the coarse texture of the beans perfectly complimenting the grainy meat.
The novelty award however had to go to the third first course option of Soft boiled Duck, Hen and Quail eggs, served on wooden planks with holes in them drilled by Richard to form eggcups of varying sizes.
These were seasonally decorated with freaky little chicks, guarded by a rank of asparagus soldiers; a feat of timing and presentation that made this the most popular dish of the evening.
For the main course, meat-eating guests could choose from Braised Rabbit with Mustard or Braised Neck of Lamb, while the vegetarian minority feasted on Rotola of Roasted Butternut Squash, with Spinach and Ricotta, all delicious in their own ways.
All came with bowls of Spring Greens, Rainbow Chard and terracotta flower pots of New Potatoes, again locally sourced from Hendo’s back yard.
Some people just couldn’t get enough of them!
The dessert course saw a frenzy of spoon swapping as a trio of tarts (Lemon, Poached Pear & Chocolate, Fig & Frangipane) finished things off nicely.
Mr Dulo however, took things a stage further with a flurry of Margaritas, Attitude Adjusters and French Martinis that put a wobble in several people’s walks.
Afterwards the party made its way to local hostelry The Vine on Cemetery Rd to schmooze and dance into the small hours at sister music promotion Nano.
The sultry tune selections and mixing skills of The Gannet, The Funk Master General and The African proved the perfect end for an evening of excellent food and company.