Eating in places of the unknown, or getting clues about where your next food adventure will be is quite a popular trend amongst foodies and it’s an experience people pay top dollar for. This is how Secret Eats comes into the picture.
Dark kitchens and pop fine dining restaurants are all the craze.
Secret Eats brings together food lovers and chefs to have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience over the course of an evening. They work with the top chefs in the area, giving them full control of the menu to serve up the dishes they really want to make.
The best part, it’s all a secret until you arrive.
Having had this experience before at Ganico Organic Estate, a farm in Muldersdrift – Johannesburg, we were excited to see a differing offering. The first Secret Eats was the thrill of the unknown, as we foraged, tasted and savoured wine until nightfall.
This time around the location was at Clico Boutique Hotel in Johannesburg, our chefs were Sharnè Govender and Carien Van Tonder from HTA School of Culinary.
The air of the night was of simplicity.
The chefs are best friends and have a pop-up fine dining restaurant called FÏN restaurant at HTA. Curating a menu for Secret Eats played into their strengths and it showed as we tasted their three-course menu.
Van Tonder and Govender are teachers at HTA and gave some of the students an opportunity to cook for the special occasion.
In all honesty, we couldn’t tell the difference, the quality of the food was top class.
WATCH: Inside Secret Eats fine dining adventure with FÏN
FIN Restaurant’s Secret Eats Menu
Inspired by the seasons, the menu celebrated the freshest ingredients. The canapes were little bites of confit duck with apricot chutney and arancini’s (an Italian rice ball). The confit duck was spot on.
The evening proceeded to guests being seated at the semi-outdoor area of Clico’s dining table. Van Tonder reiterated their menu pays tribute to certain ingredients. “People usually overlook an ingredient such as tomato, beetroot and carrot,” these vegetables were the stars throughout the menu.
The starter was a slow-roasted beetroot carpaccio with feta and black pepper mousse. It was occupied by pickled baby beets, radish, blood orange emulsion and sparkling wine and red onion vinaigrette.
The standout was the beetroot and sesame tuile, it was divine. The thin wafer was very flavoursome and biscuity in texture.
The dish was paired with Thor: The Peaky Blinder wine. It is a white wine chardonnay, which worked well with the light starter.
The second course, deep-fried seafood dumplings with sauteed spinach, blistered baby tomatoes, chorizo, smoked tomato and shellfish velotute and paprika oil. The dish needed a bit more flavour and the dumplings needed more time to cook.
It was paired with the Thor Chardonnay, however, Van Tonder challenged guests to taste between red and white to notice the changes in flavour in each dish.
The third course was an option between meat and vegetarian. The meat was a sousvide rump steak and the vegetarian was brinjal. Eating the vegetarian option was interesting because the brinjal tasted meaty, and the dish was paired with crispy potatoes, pas and jus. The jus had a depth of flavour as the overall meal was satisfying.
When the desserts came there was more than enough space as the portions were on the smaller side. The chocolate torte, granadilla cream, spiced pineapple and coconut and yoghurt snow came with some theatre.
There was a bed of coffee beans emulsified. The dessert was a winner. After cleaning my plate, the only main complaint I had was that the portions were on the small side.
However, as we headed out it was a satisfying foodie night out with Secret Eats.