Have you ever been to a secret supper club? I’ve eaten at secret locations in Paris, Berlin and London but until now I’d never heard of a secret supper club in Australia. That was until I received an invitation to attend a Posh Secret Supper Club as part of the Surf Coast’s Eat Local month. 40 diners paid $90 for a ticket which entitled them to a meal celebrating local produce at a secret location. I signed up not knowing where we would be eating or who we would be eating with.
On the morning of the dinner everyone got a text message revealing the meal would be at Bellbrae Harvest, about a 10 minute drive from Jan Juc. This picturesque restaurant is housed in a simple mud brick building looking out over a water lily filled dam and rolling hills. Walking in the fire was blazing in a corner and there was sparkling wine as all the supper club attendees mingled.
Attending a secret supper club is a perfect conversations starter with seating at big communal tables mixing together groups of friends with individuals. Under the guidance of chef David Veal, Bellbrae Harvest, is known for its focus on regional and seasonal produce so it was a great location for a dinner for Eat Local Month with the menu including local pork and honey from Veal’s father’s bees. Veal discussed the provenance of each course and it made for some interesting conversations over dinner discussing the growing number of great producers on the Surf Coast and the benefits of trying to eat locally.
Veal’s food is complex and adventurous. He avoids using salt in his cooking instead using herbs, spices and alternative forms of seasoning. The supper club started with a tempura fried zucchini flower with a root vegetable salad and a mint gel and “crumbs” of dehydrated olives serving as a salt substitute.
Things got even more involved from here. Sometimes the unusual flavour and texture combinations worked while other times they didn’t. Probably my favourite dish of the night was the palate cleanser between courses which was a Greek salad flavoured sorbet. Amazingly you really could taste cucumber, tomato and salty feta all in one mouthful of sorbet.
In contrast a main of pork belly with duck needed to be simpler. Western Plains pork belly had been slow cooked until it really melted apart but the addition of cured duck breast on the plate alongside pea puree, sweet potato scallop and pork floss meant the dish was too busy.
Veal’s take on dessert was a lot of fun. An exploding white chocolate cheesecake set off little fireworks in my mouth thanks to popping candy scattered in crumbs. A creamy and smooth pannacotta honeycomb was paired with a popcorn flavoured sauce adding a touch of whimsy. To finish the dessert trio a Cherry Ripe in lolly form was a little burst of sweetness and I was impressed that even the wrapper was edible. The posh secret supper club was a great experience from the secret location to the surprises continuing with dish after dish. Neal’s cooking isn’t for everyone. If you prefer simple, rustic food a meal at Bellbrae Harvest is not for you but his emphasis on local produce fitted the bill perfectly for the posh secret supper club.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review the Posh Secret Supper Club for Eat Local Month.
Details: Bellbrae Harvest, 45 Portreath Road, Bellbrae (Ph 03 5266 2100)
Damage: Pricey. Tickets cost $90 for five courses and a welcome drink.