FOOD SENT FROM THE EV-ENS
Posted on 13-01-2017
But you probably wouldn’t have come across Ev unless you had already had it recommended, because despite its size, it’s not all that conspicuously placed. You’ll find this Turkish eatery tucked away in a side-street running parallel with The Cut, behind a tall front garden of tropical plants that seclude its outside dining area. Had we been visiting in the summer, this would have made for an attractive little enclave to hang out in – despite us being in the shadow of The Shard and stone’s throw from the river.
While we don’t like to go for chains in our food reviews (what’s the point if everyone’s already been?) Ev isn’t quite the independent little business either. It forms part of the burgeoning Tas franchise of at least six other places in central London, including one over the road in The Cut.
That, if anything, should be a source of confidence. We’re not throwing dice on a scrappy upstart, nor can you expect the blandness or contrived character of a pre-prepared-everything Zizzi or Carluccio.
So we wander in at peak time on a Thursday, and for a restaurant that could probably do 150 covers, it’s about 40 per cent full. There’s the occasional couple, a few not-quite-in-full-swing office Christmas parties around, just the right level of atmosphere, but without you straining to hear each other.
When any half-cultured Londoner thinks of middle-eastern food, they will invariably think of halloumi and falafel, which on the menu appear as the Sebzeli Kofte. With the latter holding a special place in my heart – thanks to a few summers spent making them endlessly for a mobile catering firm – we ordered a bowl of their finest deep-fried chickpea and sesame to start, with plenty of hummus and tzatziki. And judging by their crumbly but soft texture, it’s more than likely they had been made fresh.
And finding out that both my friend and I harbour a love of drier white wine [okay – you don’t have to say it] we opted for a bottle of Pinot. It hits the spot throughout the evening, tempting you take your time with crisp sips to trickle over your taste buds.
The main course arrives in good time. My salmon steak proved a hospitable host for a collage of citric flavours and spices. With its bed of rice came a blend of courgettes, artichokes, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It’s these flavours, and a clean cooking style that’s free of unnecessary cream or oil, that has really brought Mediterranean cooking in vogue in 2016.
My friend pushed the boat out a touch further than I had, and she was greeted with a plate of Kuzu ?i?: marinated (and I’m told) very tender, seared lamb cubes. They lay beside a dome of bulgur wheat, chickpeas and salad – super lightweight and nutritious, but ready to absorb and accentuate whatever it’s served with.
We stayed at Ev for a good four hours, occasionally people watching from our window-side seat as the bar next door bled its music among the chatter and laughter.
Ev suits this classy but outgoing little section of SE1 with theatres galore and young businesses sprouting around the neighbourhood. Let’s hope with 2017 approaching that we start to see a few more Tas and Ev restaurants appear around London – but not too many that it loses its charm.
Ev, 97-99 Isabella Street, SE1 8DD
020 7620 6192
Sebzeli Köfte (Falafel) £5.75
Sebzeli Somon Izgara (salmon) £13.95
Kuzu Sis (lamb) £12.95
Disabled access Yes
Disabled toilet Yes