Date visited: 8/6/12

Evans & Peel Detective Agency

310c Earls Court Road

London

Nearest Tube: Earls Court

Appointments essential.

£££ – sharing platter between 3, 2 cocktails and a pudding

***1/2

Our appointment was at 7pm on a Friday evening. This was the opening night of Evans & Peel, so we had no idea what to expect, beyond what we’d seen on their achingly cool website. The door was just off Earls Court Road, discreet and dimly lit, and after pressing the buzzer and confirming our appointment with the voice at the other end, we cautiously wandered down the dimly lit stairs, finding ourselves in a 1920′s themed office – maps on the wall had pins indicating sightings, a magnifying glass lay next to the old type writer and a large bookcase lined one side of the office. We were greeted by Agent Evans, wearing a cravat and braces – or perhaps it was Agent Peel, I can’t quite remember – and all of a sudden he pushed the book case and opened the door through to a slightly shabby but beautifully themed bar, where bartenders and waitresses dressed in 1920s clothing were mixing up cocktails and whisking them through to tables on the other side of a heavy curtain. The menus came on brown envelopes, in true detective style. We were given a seat at the bar, on old wrought iron bar stools. We were immediately made to feel at home as the bartenders took great pains to discuss our cocktail choices with us, encouraging us to taste new flavours (and reduce our sugar intake) and preparing them in front of us with confidence and elegant flair. We were also given a warm, doughy pretzel with a little feta cheese and spinach dip which was a nice way to start the evening.

The food was potentially a very exciting complement to the drinks – the menu consisted of old American favourites, not too dissimilar to the barbecue type food you can find in Pitt Cue Co – the kitchen has a smoker called Flapper, much in the same way that Pitt Cue has Doris and Ethel. Pulled pork, smoked sausages and hot smoked salmon caught our eye, all of which we could order in the mixed dish platter – this allowed us to order 4 sliders and 3 dishes for about £30. The pulled pork sliders came with an apple compote, we also had a hot smoked salmon slider with slivers of red onion and capers, and a deconstructed humous slider, which was chickpeas on a bun in a ring of red pepper – I wasn’t impressed with that one. The logistics of eating chickpeas on a bun is not something I’ll go into now, but needless to say, the elegance of the 1920s soon disappeared. The sausages were just bits of sausage on a cocktail stick that tasted a bit smokey. We also had a fried cheese, which was lovely and came with a smokey sauce, and we had a salad of sweet potato, broccoli and barley which was a good lighter accompaniment.

The mains weren’t anything too special to be honest, although I think they have potential. The problem is that the type of food competes with some very good players out there, and just isn’t quite as good as them yet. The portions were pretty small – ordered individually they would have been about £5 each which is quite alot for 2 or 3 mouthfuls of food.

The puddings for me were a real winner though – a blondie and brownie with a ‘caffeine chaser’ – an iced coffee sorbet in a shot glass to drizzle over the warm, dense cakes, and a gorgeous smooth smoked cheesecake. This was a bit weird to begin with – it sort of tasted like eating bacon but with out the salty meatiness. Once you’ve got your head around it though, I think it works really well and is a realy unique dish on the menu, whereas the other dishes seemed less unusual.

We paid about £74 between 3 of us, but this had 20% off because it’s the opening few weeks; the offer is on until 22 June I believe. If you go with a boy, you’d probably need to spend double on food if you were planning on having dinner there. The license does require you to order some food with your drinks, so it’s worth going a little bit hungry. I think this is a brilliant concept and at full price, I guess £9.50 a cocktail is about the average for London these days. You couldn’t go every week as it is really an experience, but I don’t think you’d regret stopping for a cocktail or two, and a bit of dessert.

Don’t forget to make your appointment – you didn’t hear it from me.

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