The concept of a Chef’s Table has always been oddly alluring to me and at the same time oddly unappealing. In one aspect, I would love to see close up the effort that goes into preparing a dish, but on the other hand, as a vegetarian, I have no interest in seeing something being butchered right in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, no issues with it whatsoever, just have no interest in seeing it live, watching MasterChef is enough for me. Kitchen Table tucked away behind Bubbledogs was the closest I have come to booking an experience like this, but the £125 a head menu just seemed too much to me. However, when I found out that the sibling duo behind The Palomar had opened a tiny spot beneath The Blues Post, I had to go.
Evelyn’s Table has 11 spots at the kitchen counter with two more two people tables, a handful of chefs and two serving staff. It almost feels like you’re all dining together given the intimacy of the place (aiding by dim lighting), and at the same time it’s possible to eat as a two in your own little world with the occasional interaction with the very talented chefs. The menu is small and precise with strong southern European influences. Things start with the antipasti, move onto the primi, then the secondi and then the end. No messing about here with naming their menu, no small plates and middle plates and large plate and it’ll come when we feel like it. This is proper 3 courses, served when they are supposed to be, and cooked fresh right in front of you.
The chef stops cooking and explains to my dining companion and myself how their menu works and also to explain their fresh fish of the day. He finishes with ‘if you have any questions just let one of us know’, they want you to feel like you’re a part of the family.
I love cheese, it is a thing of absolute beauty and when someone tells me that they have gone vegan, I wonder how they will live a life without cheddar, tallegio and gorgonzola. The pre-meal snack here is a courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese which dipped into a batter, lightly fried and then topped with a drizzle of honey. The cheese inside is not dense as is normally the case and the honey just makes the dish sing. The bit of cheese and honey that has escaped it scooped up with the perfect Hedone sourdough, the bread here really is fantastic. I challenge you to find a better brown sourdough in London, I assure you that you will struggle.
The starter is a take on the classic asparagus with hollandaise, but the sauce is replaced with girolles and hazelnuts with a dollop of garlic mayo to dip into. This plate has it all, it is crunchy, soft, sweet and garlicy all at the same time. In short it is an absolute joy.
Watching pasta be made is just so mesmerising. Here you can’t see the dough being rolled but you see your tagliatelle boiled and then transferred into the perfect sized saucepan where it is tossed with broadbeans, mousseron and peas. The chefs don’t go over the top with trying to impress the diners with ridiculous theatrics and instead focus on producing amazing tasting food. The perfectly al dente pasta is plated and topped with a healthy grating of Berkswell cheese. Simplicity at its absolute finest. The earthiness of the mushrooms is complimented perfectly by the sweetness of the peas and broadbeans and the saltiness of the cheese that reminds me of pecorino.
For dessert, you can choose from the lemon tart with clotted cream and cherries or then, fresh strawberries with Jersey cream, meringue and a quenelle of basil sorbet. Obviously, we did the sensible thing and ordered both. The strawberries were fresh, the cream thick and sweet, the meringue sticky and the sorbet cut through it all.
I thought this is what a grown-up dessert was meant to be, this was until I took a bite of the lemon tart. I struggle to find the words to describe to you how good it was. The base was crispy but a spoon cut straight through it, the lemon curd was sharp but the clotted cream and cherries balanced it out perfectly. It was so good that I asked for a second slice, however they had run out for the day. Heartbreak.
This is the kind of place where you finish your meal and immediately go online and try and book another table to come back. Evelyn’s Table really is something special.