Roman Polanski might not be the most savoury inspiration in the current cultural climate so it’s a punchy move by The Palomar owners to name their new chef’s counter after Faye Dunaway’s femme fatale in the director’s 1974 film Chinatown. But that’s the only questionable note in the sort of accomplished offering that we’ve come to expect from siblings Zoe and Layo Paskin, who followed up The Palomar with The Barbary and Jacob the Angel, and who readers whose memories weren’t frazzled by the 90s club scene may remember from AKA restaurant at The End nightclub.
Evelyn’s Table sits in the cellar of the Paskins’ reinvention of Chinatown boozer The Blue Posts, beneath the ground-floor pub and first-floor Mulwray’s cocktail bar; it’s an intimate, romantically-lit space, with a ‘private’ sign on the door and 15 diners around the horseshoe counter.
Small plates with a southern European accent feature some top-notch suppliers: Hedone sourdough, La Fromagerie cheeses and fish from the dayboats at Looe, which delivered the biggest hit of the night: beautifully cooked hake with capers and olive oil-soaked croutons. Overall, fish dishes impressed the most: our croquette-like salt-cod beignets with punchy taramasalata, and subtly smoked eel on excellent blinis, had the edge over good (but just not as good) duck tortellini and presa iberica, which lacked the same clearly defined flavours – although there were no such complaints with a chewy tarte Tatin, sweet as a toffee apple.
Food aside, how much you enjoy this experience will depend on how open you are to chatting to the friendly chefs and front of house rather than giving your companion your undevoted attention – this is not somewhere to come for diners who wish to be left undisturbed. “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown”, Jack Nicholson’s character is told at the end of Polanski’s film – but this is a location to remember.