The Bearkat experience starts long before you enter the venue. From the posters to the event titles all hint towards the treats to be unveiled ahead. This being a “secret” supper club the location of the evening is not revealed until the day of the event itself. On the eve of this, the latest Bearkat supper club Wings of a Dove I went to bed with a little of the anticipation of the night before Christmas – awaking to a dawn gift in my inbox revealing the location as Bridport’s Chapel in The Garden.
Following the dimly lit path through the garden, under the spotlighted dovecote, the inspiration behind the title became clear. On into the chapel and a trail of tealights led the way, interspersed with more of the trademark Bearkat line drawings; on through the Chapel gallery and with a final decent into the dining space, we were greeted with a magical vision of fairy lights and whimsy; long banqueting style tables laid out with wild flowers in mismatched jam jars and crockery, the brighter lights of the bar forming a beacon to come hither and sample the signature Bearkat cocktails.
A rhubarb mojito was seasonal, sweet and with the uplift of mint. Wild garlic pesto bruschetta offered another highlight of the season, pungent and insistent – a real thrust of garlic potency.
Platters of antipasti from small Bridport based importers Mercato Italiano were a great icebreaker on the communal tables, setting the relaxed ambience for the evening. Any fears of the dreaded communal dining were soon dispatched.
Conversations flowed throughout, a common love of food weaving a thread between us. The first course proper offered a delicate sliver of ham hock terrine on soda bread with a peppery salad of Trill Farm leaves, wild garlic and gorse. A grating of apple through the bread could have been easily missed but gave a subtle nod to the pairing of pork and apple and a note of sweetness to the dish.
Dom’s penchant for foraging was apparent throughout the meal, adding a freshness and vivacity to the menu. Sea greens graced the main course of hake with mussels and vibrant violet potatoes, whilst the vegetarian option sported a selection of wild herbs.
Those who headed down to the toilets or out back for a sneaky cigarette and in doing so came upon the kitchen, were given an idea of just what an undertaking producing a meal of this scale and calibre must have been for Dom and his small team. Far from a commercial kitchen, the chefs worked from a box kitchen equipped with little more than a domestic cooker and a griddle plate bought in for the night – impressive by any standards.
Onto dessert and a proper sweet lovers hit of salted caramel sponge, with toffee sauce, cream and hazelnuts – wafer thin layers of syrup soaked sponge- which whilst uber sweet avoided stodginess, a hint of citrus dampening coaxing the sugar gauge away from the edge of potential saturation.
A beautifully judged vocal and keyboard performance from Amy Brown provided a mesmerising backdrop to the evening – one which will live long in the memory, entrancing, bewitching, all embracing. I look forward to my next BearKat magical mystery tour.
I spoke to Bearkat founder and prolific Bridport chef and all-round creative Dom Brown ahead of the event to find out more about the Bearkat concept.
All your supper clubs have intriguing names- do they offer a clue to the theme of the event itself- perhaps to the venue, food or music?
Yes they all hint towards the experience of the evening ; the events are themed on the venue or the year the venue was built and then the food music and decor is all worked around this.
What can we expect from the food itself at your events? Is it themed to match the evening or in your own personal style?
Cats’ Meow was a 1920s dinner party so I did a lot of research and got myself some 1920s cook books and created a menu to suite the modern day cooking as we have a lot better produce to use now. Almost all my produce comes from farms around Dorset and is organic- I even drive to the farms to meet the growers if I don’t already know them. Then there is the foraging; this is something I really enjoy so I always add a little wild food in the mix.
What is your culinary style? What influences have informed your style?
I have such a wide range of styles I like to use, from Indian cooking to the basics of letting the produce do its thing. I’m big on preserving and making all my own vinegars at the moment, so there will be lots more of that at the next supper club.
Who in the culinary world inspires you?
I don’t really follow any one but there’s one person who I think is so passionate about food and really cares! – I was so happy to watch this guy do a talk- Sam Clark from Moro- what an amazing guy!
Besides great food, what can we expect from a BearKat supper club?
BearKat is not just about the food, that’s just the middle bit to fill you up- it’s a whole evening. The idea is that the moment you get that email the event starts; when you walk in the door or follow the candles in to the dinner hall you start to wonder what’s next; with live music and cocktails designed to fit the evening, I just want every people to have fun. I plan to have more up and coming music and there are also plans for comedy, magic and even a little festival!
You’re an all-round creative person (you drew the BearKat logo?), can we expect more of your creative flourishes at the event?
The logo is half designed by me; I went out and got a letter press set and played about until I got the font how I wanted it – the images are in fact not my drawings at the moment. The plan is to replace them with my own line drawings very soon so there will be a little re brand at some point… all the decor at all events is done by me; I make everything from menu holders to lighting- I get carried away some times.
Who do you hope your supper clubs will appeal to? Why should we come to a BearKat supper club?
In my mind I want everyone to come to my supper clubs but I know not everyone is in to having no idea what you’re going to eat til you’re sat at the table, so I do give you the chance to say “I don’t like raw onion.” I also seem to get lots of veggies; I really like cooking veggie and vegan unlike a lot of chefs who just stuff a red pepper with couscous, so yes you guys are more than welcome!
The next Bearkat supper club Calico Jack is on Saturday 21st May. Tickets are available now at www.bearkat.co.uk
|Invited by PR company?||No|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||Yes|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|