IT”S little over a year since Evelyn’s was in the spotlight at the 2016 Manchester Food and Drink Awards, shortlisted in four categories – Best Restaurant, Casual Restaurant, Newcomer and Chef of the Year. Not bad for converted store on Tib Street and yes, it did epitomise the more relaxed approach to dining out, consummated at the 2017 Awards, when the likes of Bundobust, Allotment and Baratxuri scooped top gongs (but no sign of Evelyn’s among the nominations).
Of late, despite a reputation for its breakfasts and brunches, the place has slipped under the radar, not helped by the departure of that nominated chef, Byron Moses. Easy to say he headed for the Promised Land, but there have been no kitchen sightings since.
His current successor, Jimmy Carr, has unveiled a new menu, which ToM has dipped into, lured by the promise of Asian fusion, Peruvian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Even at breakfast you’ll find Korean roll and shakshuka alongside pancakes and blueberries.
We went in the evening and were disappointed by the plates we tried. Presentation didn’t help; look at the small plate of braised octopus, hummus, burnt lemon (£9) and the large plate crispy tofu, red pepper dhal, greens, seeds (£13.50). Even accepting the evening lighting, they look a sloppy mess.
Is it perhaps on the insistence of the owners, who run Mughli, that all these pulses and purees crop up? So clumsily spiced; fusion doesn’t habe to be like this. And yet the over-charred octopus was tender and the tofu overcame its natural blandness. Buttermilk chicken was standard NQ stuff but the mound of brown risotto rice, supposedly jerk, was chewy stodge and cost £14.
‘We’ll send the dishes out as when they are ready’ was the mantra and, of course, they all came at once, so the mussels in coconut milk (£7) were cold by the time we approached them (and why with crostini?).
Best, and best looking, of the savouries was the white fish ceviche with avocado fans (£7.50), modish but refreshing. And an extra amuse of whipped tofu with soy and chilli worked well when it shouldn’t have.
The rest of the menu touches many bases from laksa to freekeh, tuna poke to Vietnamese hot soup, from coconut reiku to plum and tofu cheesecake (yes, tofu many ways). We do wish they’d stand back, shorten the menu and re-find the old focus. Fusion yes, but less random.
Evelyn’s, G18, Smithfield Building, Tib Street, Manchester M4 1NB. 0161 834 3303