“What we want to do with The Secret Supper Club is provide real “foodies” with a particularly unforgettable dining experience. We were always keen to stay away from the traditional restaurant construct, looking instead to offer our guests with something novel and exciting within a relaxed and inviting space.
Our underground dining room gives us a unique venue that can’t be seen or accessed from the street. Diners have to book having seen our menu online. This adds a layer of anticipation before guests have stepped a foot inside the building.
Upon arrival we lead guests through our Cooking Academy, down the stairs past our working basement kitchen and through to the secret supper club dining room. This all adds to the theatre of the occasion – Our guests are invited into the beating heart of our operations, where our chefs host the evening; explaining the theme underpinning the menu, building anticipation about the dishes we have created, and giving a brief explanation of each dish as it is served.
We’re excited to have the opportunity to experiment with the food we serve; all dishes are designed with a heavy focus on innovation and we aim to steer away from the norm as often as possible. Our plates are presented uniquely and packed with flavour, while keeping a balanced menu in mind. When we can, we use locally sourced produce from the best Scottish suppliers.
Those who enjoy fine dining will love The Secret Supper Club, we’ve absolutely no doubt!. We also encourage “non-foodies” with a more reserved approach to food to come and enjoy what we have created too. We aim to change perceptions, innovate, educate and dazzle diners’ pallets with the food and drink on offer. “The Howff” by its very definition is “a favourite meeting place” and that’s exactly what we aspire to…. You’re gonna love it!!”
Lewis Donegan – Executive Chef/Tutor
Executive Chef / Tutor
Lewis has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and now heads up the hugely popular Dundee Cooking Academy, where he shares his passion, extensive skill set and vast knowledge delivering entertaining cooking classes to the public.
Dundee born and bred, he started his cooking career with Hilton Hotels before working all over Scotland developing his craft in some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants and hotels. This includes the award winning Auchrannie Resort on the beautiful Isle of Arran and the Michelin starred Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, to name a few.
Over the years Lewis has enjoyed building on his eclectic career and in 2014 moved into teaching. Lewis has lectured Professional Cookery at Dundee & Angus College and also tutored at one of Scotland’s most renowned celebrity chef run Cook Schools. To add to his already extensive resume, Lewis cooked lunch for Her Majesty the Queen at her 90th Birthday Celebration hosted by Dundee’s Lord Provost and even tried his hand at Masterchef the Professionals.
Lewis also oversees Dundee’s top takeaway lunch offering, the extremely popular Tayble Deli while leading the team here at The Howff – Secret Supper Club. Lewis’s passion is infectious and he is so happy to be doing what he loves most…. sharing and showcasing his experience of cooking here in Dundee.
John’s reputation as one of Dundee’s top chefs continues to grow rapidly. John is Head Chef of our Bank Street Kitchen and provides faultless standards and the highest quality food for all areas of our operation including The Dundee Cooking Academy, Tayble Deli and here at The Howff – Secret Supper Club.
John’s professional career began at the hugely popular Inchture Hotel where he progressed through the ranks to the Head Chef position. During his time at Inchture John gained a wealth of experience in all sections of the kitchen.
A chef who loves a challenge, John’s next move was a career changing step-up to the role of Head Chef at Castlehill Restaurant, then one of Dundee’s leading fine dining establishments. Within months of taking over the reins in the kitchen he went on to lead the team to 2AA Rosettes and was also recommended by the Michelin Guide for 2020. We’re delighted that John has decided to join us at our Bank Street HQ as Head Chef.
John is not only known by his peers as one of the nicest people you will meet, but one of the most hardworking, dedicated individuals. A true industry professional! He makes regular appearances at The Dundee Cooking Academy gladly passing on his cookery knowledge and helping create a fantastic and enjoyable environment for all of our guests.
The Howff was originally the garden of the Greyfriars Monastery. The Monastery was founded by ‘Devorgilla Balliol’ mother of King John Balliol and granddaughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon who was gifted the town of Dundee by his brother ‘William the Lion’, King of the Scots in the 12th century.
During the 1547 invasion of Scotland by the English under Henry VIII the town of Dundee was stormed, and the monastery laid in ruins. The monastery along with other religious houses in Scotland was confiscated by the Crown.
However, following the reformation of 1560, the grounds of the former Franciscan ‘Greyfriars’ Monastery passed into the possession of Mary Queen of Scots.
The date given on the charter of Queen Mary by virtue of which the Howff Burial Ground came into existence was 11th December 1564. In this charter, the Queen gave to the people of Dundee, as a burial ground “that place and yarde quhilik some time was occupyet be the Gray Cordelier Freris outwith and aside the toun”.
The Monastery’s namesake, Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh was passed to the people of Edinburgh by Mary Queen of Scots in the same year. The Edinburgh Kirk is steeped in its own history; most notably the Burke and Hare resurrections sold to Robert Knox for anatomy lectures and the famous Greyfriars Bobby.
The Howff is a Scottish word meaning a favourite meeting place or haunt. In January 1581, the agreement uniting the Nine Trades into one was signed in The Howff. This new convention held its meeting here until 1778, when a new “Trades Hall” was built at the head of the Murraygate, which housed the meetings until it was sold to the Clydesdale Bank in 1864. The meetings continue to this day and are now held in the Queens Hotel.
The Nine Trades are:-Bakers, Cordiners, Shoemakers, Skinners, Glovers, Tailors, Bonnetmakers, Fleshers or Butchers and Websters or Weavers. In addition to the 9 trades, Dundee also had the Maltmen, the Fraternity of Master & Seamen, The incorporation of Barbers & Periwig makers and the United Trades (Squarewrights, or Cabinetmakers, Joiners and Glaziers)
The ‘A listed’ Howff graveyard is highly unusual by Scottish standards, containing a high number of Roman Style coffer tombs. The tombs and stones on display are a statement of wealth with The Baxters (Jute), The Keillers (Marmalade), George Duncan (Politician and great grandson of Admiral Duncan/Battle of Camperdown) and several City Provosts all laid to rest here.
The burial ground is said to be the resting place of William Bury; suspected to be the infamous Jack the Ripper, who travelled to Dundee from London on the evening of 20 January 1889 and was sentenced to death by Dundee Courts for the murder of his wife Ellen a few months later.
In more recent times the premises of 5 Bank Street, built in 1878, onto the boundary of The Howff was occupied by the solicitors Shiell & Small. John Shiell & David Small were senior partners of the Albert Institute Commission before setting up a partnership in 1832.
The partners commodious office block in which you now sit is located next to the Dundee Advertiser built in 1860.
The Dundee Advertiser and Evening Telegraph markings are still intact on the neighbouring walls on Bank Street to this very day. Shiell & Small closed in 1990, after which the building was occupied by Shield & Kyd, laterally RSB Lindsays, until their relocation in 2014.
From 2019 the building has entered a new chapter, receiving a new lease of life as Dundee’s very first Cooking Academy.
The Academy will uphold the Howffs tradition as a popular meeting place, whilst proving to be a new and exciting chapter in its heritage,
We hope you enjoy your dining experience with us.