Hunt around Earls Court for as long as you like, but you will fail to find speakeasy bar Evans & Peel… until you spot a group of people waiting outside an inconspicuous building while onlookers wonder what's going on. A buzz at the black door, followed by a short wait until someone greets you on the intercom. A bit of interrogation and the door pops open.
Each step down takes you closer to the 1920's. Dim lights, wooden bookcases and a detective desk, manned by the detective himself, who stays in character the whole time, along with his receptionist. Unexpectedly, the detective pulls back a bookcase to reveal a bustling prohibition themed bar, awash with cocktail glasses and bottles of house infused spirits; it's even complete with a radiator which dispenses ale!
After tripping over a few times and adjusting to the lack of light, we finally reached our table. Crooked and tiny, lit by only a candle to help you distinguish between food and your guest’s legs. Apart from that problem it was very cosy, though I didn't feel I could spend a whole evening here, especially since there is a no standing policy.
We kicked off the night with a couple of cocktails. Auntie May's marmalade Bronx was the star, wonderfully Infused with a good sweet/sour ratio, but very strong. I did feel that for all the effort which goes into infusing their own spirits meant they needed to be exceptional, as the drink is all about them, but they weren't, not in my opinion. They were nice, but certainly not the best.
Food was a mixed bag. The emphasis was on American style small plates that had been smoked in their in-house smoker. The Mac 'n' Cheese, which is one of my favourite dishes was bland, under seasoned and slightly cold. But, on the other hand the goats cheese fritter in maple syrup was delicious, the sweetness of the syrup balances out the tanginess of the goats cheese perfectly all encased in golden crumbs.
Smoked sausages served on sticks with a relish were nibbling food, and nothing more, which were also served cold, though I think this was intentional. Pulled pork slider had a delicious maple glazed bun and the pork was very tender and juicy, but I didn’t feel it was smoked enough and had no depth of flavour; it tasted too ‘safe’.
All in all, Evans & Peel is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Though it has mediocre food and cocktails, the setting more than makes up for it. Head down for pre drinks before an evening out would be my advice, and don’t forget to book! You wouldn’t want to upset the detective now, would you?