I must admit, I was late to the party when it came to Evans & Peel. One of the few speakeasies outside of Soho/Shoreditch, this Earl’s Court hideout has been open a while. I finally made it down with my sister and cousin – conveniently on National Siblings Day 2014! – and was impressed by my stay.
Evans & Peel is a Detective Agency. From the outside, all the way down the stairwell, and into the reception, it remains a Detective Agency. I had already booked a table, where I had been asked to “state my case”. My response? “Very urgent and sensitive case – requires work of a Private Investigator. Can you help? 3 people. 7pm Friday night.” My appointment was confirmed, so we hopped on the District Line and went to find out more.
You enter through a nondescript door and head down to meet with the receptionist in a fifties style room, furnished to the max with vintage knick knacks, and she asks you about your “case”. Here, my sister and cousin clammed up, unused to this immersive role play – and to be honest, it was far more “audience participation” than any of my usual haunts require! I started ad libbing about our cousin who we suspected was being duped and was potentially at risk, and the receptionist probed us for more details, furiously scribbling down all the details on a notepad while we stammered answers to her questions.
After a few minutes of this, she told us she’d get someone on the case immediately – why didn’t we take a seat while we waited? A bookcase swung open, and we were ushered into a bar to drink while the investigation got underway.
The hidden bar is cool – similar in style to Discount Suit Company, with bare timbers and exposed brick and plenty of vintage furniture, with low lighting and a buzzing atmosphere – and once you’re inside the detective façade is dropped. Most tables were full on the Friday we visited – and it seemed to be a great spot for dates, as there were sooo many canoodling couples you wouldn’t believe! Our table had a row of vintage flap-down cinema seats on either side, with a giant candelabra and vintage radio attached to the wall.
The drinks menu is interesting – in a good way. Twists on classic drinks are mixed with brand new concoctions (all roughly £10), and many feature unusual distilled flavours. Rosie had a Cloudy Paris which contained eau de croissant and flavours of tea. Ellen’s Tipsy Gardener was fresh and floral, and my Cold Fashioned came complete with a biscuit, nestled amongst the ice cubes! Oh and the ale is served through an antique radiator – naturally.
We didn’t eat, but Evans & Peel do serve food – mainly meaty plates, like sliders, buffalo wings and steak sandwiches. Given the sparseness of alternative foodie options in the Earl’s Court area, I would suggest either eating at Evans & Peel, or stopping by the Byron burger restaurant right by Earl’s Court station.
When it’s time to leave, you have to ask your server to escort you out – as they don’t want people bursting out of the bookcase to spoil the illusion for new arrivals. In this way, it’s a carefully planned operation, and they pull it off well (though we did have to queue for a little while upon arrival before being allowed to enter – I guess we arrived at peak time).
This place is fun – impressive, unusual, and the Detective Agency hype isn’t just a cover up for poor quality drinks – quite the contrary, the cocktails were excellent and the setting was one of my favourites in London. Now that I have finally popped my Evans & Peel cherry, I will certainly be returning in the near future.
“At all times do not draw unwanted attention to our venue,” implores the menu. Oops, probably shouldn’t have written this review then…
- Arrive with a “case” that you can discuss with the receptionist. It will save you some blushes upon arrival.
- If you’re meeting a date, I suggest you meet them at street level, and go down to the bar together. A good friend of mine actually took a first date to Evans & Peel without forewarning her of the nature of the place; she made her own way down to the reception and was subjected to a torturous round of questions relating to the Detective Agency, with no giveaway that yes, this was the bar she was meant to be meeting her man at! I don’t think they went on a second date…
- Book in advance. I don’t think you can easily walk in unannounced.