I’m always so excited to bring exclusive culinary experiences to our community, and our Secret Dinners are above and beyond my favorite events to host. The Hayward House Secret Dinner in Tallahassee was no exception.

The Secret Dinner series is designed to foster community amongst our All Access Foodies supporters – a small group of patrons seated together at one long table, while also serving up an element of mystery that makes each dinner unique.

The event location remains a secret, known only to myself and the establishment during the super fun planning process, until it is revealed to guests on the morning of the event! Later that day upon arrival, the prix fixe menu is unveiled, making the dining experience an adventurous discovery from start to finish.

Our unique Secret Dinner experience is enhanced by the owner personally welcoming diners and providing an introduction to the restaurant, offering insights not typically available on a casual visit. Complementing this moment, the Chef details each course as it arrives at the table in a beautifully synchronized presentation.

Ashey Chaney greeting guests at our Hayward House Secret Dinner in Tallahassee
Images by Dave Barfield of Lonely Fox Photography for Tallahassee Foodies

Our Hayward House Secret Dinner

On March 28th, I had the pleasure of hosting a Secret Dinner at the newly established and super charming Hayward House in Downtown Tallahassee, a venue that holds a special place in the city’s history as the former long-lived Andrew’s. Owner Ashley Chaney, who began her professional journey at Andrews, has completely transformed the space, seamlessly blending its historical charm with contemporary elegance.

The ambiance for our event at Hayward House was nothing short of stunning. As I turned the corner into their private dining space that I’d never seen before, I was blown away by the beautifully decorated long table — sparkling wine glasses arranged perfectly for our pairing dinner, formal place settings, fresh flowers aligning the center of the table, all set to the earthy color palette that reflects the Hayward House aesthetic.

Executive Chef Blake Shine at the Tallahassee Foodies Hayward House Secret Dinner in Tallahassee
Images by Dave Barfield of Lonely Fox Photography for Tallahassee Foodies

Upon arrival, we were greeted with an Argyle Sparkling Rosé Willamette Valley and a warm welcome by Ashley, followed by an introduction to the Hayward House Executive Chef, Blake Shine.

Shine, a Tallahassee native and FSU alum, honed his cooking skills under the guidance of his mother and grandmother. After college, he broadened his culinary horizons across Louisiana and Mississippi, acquiring valuable insights into the operations of successful restaurants and kitchens.

As each course was served, Chef Shine shared the story behind each dish, bringing a personal touch that enriched the dining experience. His unique creations for the evening were highlighted in our very own All Access Foodies + Hayward House Secret Dinner custom menu…

Spicy Seafood Broth with Poached Gulf Shrimp, Crispy Andouille Sausage, Crispy Potato Skins, and Lime
Brussels Salad with Red Onion, Dried Cranberries, Green Apple, Marcona Almonds, and Parmesan
Beef Tartare with Filet Mince, Pickled Shallot, Fried Capers, Gherkins, Fresh Herbs, Whipped Feta, and Quail Egg
Guajillo-Glazed Cobia with Grilled Cobia Fillet, Chile Guajillo, Charred Scallion Couscous, Hot Honey, Crispy Brussels, and Garlic Sauce
Lemon Crème featuring Brown Sugar Brûlée, Lemon Pound Cake, with a Dark Chocolate Shell and Raspberry

Shine’s menu is noted by guests for its bold, innovative flavors. Each dish was perfectly executed and reflected his ability to turn simple, fresh ingredients into culinary works of art.

The Spicy Seafood Broth is a soup that I’d love when I’m under the weather, and when I’m perfectly fine lol! I loved the kick of spice and the HUGE poached Gulf shrimp, combined so well with the sausage, potato skins and lime!

Their regular rotation menu item, the Brussels Salad, offered a lighter brighter moment after the Spicy Broth. The dish featured Brussels with slivers of red onion, juicy bits of green apple, and dried cranberries, creating a wonderful contrast in textures, topped with crunchy Marcona almonds and finely grated Parmesan Reggiano. The salad was paired with a vibrant Gitton Sancerre, with citrus notes that enhanced the salad’s flavors.

The Beef Tartare was an incredibly tasty moment, and a first for me. The dish, crafted from finely minced filet, was a delicious balance of tart pickled shallots and a tangy burst of fried capers complemented by the super flavorful and creamy whipped feta. Everyone was raving about this dish that was paired perfectly with a Chappellet Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley!

Images by Dave Barfield of Lonely Fox Photography for Tallahassee Foodies

The cobia, a mild and slightly sweet fish, was grilled to a perfect golden-brown and coated in a smoky mild Guajillo chili glaze. Accompanying the fish was charred scallion couscous, which provided wonderful texture, and crispy Brussels sprouts tossed in a slightly sweet hot honey. The garlic sauce was a wonderful finishing touch, adding a rich depth of flavor. All combined were enhanced so well by the Closier De Lys Pinot Noir Roussillon pairing.

The dessert, in particular, was a showstopper: a half lemon was hollowed out with the lemon used in the pound cake, smothered in a ganache shell, with the hollowed lemon peel filled with a brown sugar brûlée. Dunk your spoon into the brûlée, and then into the cake for a bite that is so next level! This dish was not just a treat for the palate, but also a feast for our eyes. This course was so enjoyed alongside a Manoella Port.

We were treated so super special with custom courses made especially for us, yet I heard so many people highly requesting that Hayward House add the Secret Dinner menu items, especially the Beef Tartare and Guajillo-Glazed Cobia, on to their regular rotation menu. This dinner unexpectedly served as a great opportunity for research and development on potential future menu offerings with immediate guest feedback. We were so lucky to provide our thoughts – we’ll happily be your taste testers anytime!

Thank you, Hayward House, for hosting our most recent Secret Dinner and providing an unforgettable evening. Everything was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I am so very grateful to Ashley and her entire team, they crushed every moment and bite from beginning to end!

What a gorgeous space, beautiful decor, great company, amazing service, and incredibly tasty food. They have accomplished so much together over the past few short months and I highly recommend them for your next date night, night out with friends, or special occasion large party event.

Join Our Community

Secret Dinners are more than just meals; they are a journey through the tastes and talents of Tallahassee. At our Secret Dinners, the best compliment is when diners navigate the prix fixe courses and exclaim, “I wouldn’t have thought to order this for myself, but now I can’t wait to come back and order it again and again!” Hearing these comments confirms that our goal to introduce guests to new experiences and broaden culinary horizons was achieved.

Our community of local food aficionados continues to grow. If you haven’t yet attended one of our Secret Dinners, I hope you’ll Join the Swarm to jump in on all the fun! Please note that seating is limited and not guaranteed.

Find Hayward House in Tallahassee at:
Socials – WebsiteFacebookInstagram
Address – 228 S Adams St, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone – (850) 825-7081


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