Counter dining Michelin starred restaurant in a snug setting beneath a Soho pub
Evelyn’s Table gained a Michelin star in the 2022 Michelin guide and is headed by head chef James Goodyear who cut his teeth in Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Mugaritz, Maaemo and Hide Above, all of which I have previously enjoyed in different ways hence I was looking forward to this visit. This is an intimate venue in the basement of a pub with the dinner only tasting menu of £120 served for a max of 12 covers nightly Tues – Sat at time of writing. A lot of care from the 6 chefs is provided and there is certainly an atmosphere when all starts flowing with a couple of elements on the menu being very enjoyable.
The menu started with a trio of canapés including a spring roll of pickled vegetables in miso which had a lovely texture and was refreshing; BBQ mackerel was fresh and a wanton of crab came with kohlrabi with fermented rhubarb which was super. A tempura maitaki mushroom with a pickled gel was served last and was very good of the team as I was avoiding the mussel on this occasion. The tempura itself was very exceedingly light and a pleasant change from numerous examples of tempura I can think of not being done as it should be.
Squab (pigeon) was cooked Peking duck style and served with beetroot tartare pickled roses and came with a pistachio praline stuffed onion and savoury butterscotch dusted with dehydrated rose powder. The smoked leg of pigeon was succulent and lovely, the main pigeon itself being absolutely succulent and all elements working well together. Normally, pigeon is not a favourite of mine which I don’t proactively choose, but this was done very well and not as ‘gamey’ as pigeon can be.
The next course was cod (brined for 10 mins), served with buckwheat risotto, green strawberries pickled asparagus, bbq asparagus sauce and a dashi-buerre noisette sauce. This was a beautiful combination with cod that was cooked perfectly. The belly of cod also had whipped cod’s roe with a fermented cep gel and chive oil. A small interlude followed which was a braised ox cheek dumpling with chicken sauce from the beef bones with soy ginger and citrus (including grapefruit, yuzu, orange and lemon). This was a lovely sauce to go with a well-prepared dumpling.
The main course was Lake District beef. This was dry-aged sirloin with pickled trumpet mushrooms, black garlic and vegetable XO purée (again reduced from the beef bones) with madeira. A barbecued short rib came with charred leaks, hazelnut, marigold mushroom with aged soy and nasturtium leaves. The beef had moderate flavour, with a lovely sauce and with other sauces which, on reflection but not necessary. The aromatic black garlic purée was not my favourite accompanying beef sauce and with the other sauce elements it felt like there was a little too much richness all round for the beef. An aromatic herb leaf bouquet garni at the end had a powerful aniseed aroma from the fennel.
Pre-dessert was a barbecued fruit compote with sorrel jelly, granita pine and sorrel with a Jasmin infusion. There was an underlying tone of savoury within this pre-dessert and whilst this is not uncommon for pre-desserts, this one simply was not a favourite combination tried. The main dessert however, was much more successful in my opinion. The main dessert was a white chocolate and pumpkin parfait with chocolate soil, toasted vanilla ice cream garnished with burnt hay, miso and pumpkin butter scotch sauce (hot and cold). The parfait has lovely texture and the combination of the butterscotch and toasted vanilla was new and a very good combination. I enjoyed this dish immensely and was pleasing to finish on a high note. Coffee was Difference company coffee which is a high-end brand and likewise good to finish the meal on, served with a petit four of woodland mushroom fudge with cep powder.
Service and hospitality was very good throughout with the chefs and sommelier being very engaging and hospitable. That said, my other observations from this visit are that it is very cramped and it did feel like I needed to eat with my elbows glued to my sides to not risk brushing either of the diners to my left and right and whilst the music was upbeat, I thought the loud, expletive hard-core music on occasion could have been replaced by something a little more appropriate.
Ultimately this was a menu that was carefully prepared which on the whole I enjoyed. I would manage expectations of space and a potentially cramped pub area to wait for your seat if you are early, but it is an enjoyable menu.
Food Grade: 72%