Tucked away in a leafy corner of Hoxton Square, Ever After is a cocktail bar and small plates restaurant with a narrow interior and marble table tops. Low-fi jazz hums over the clatter of cocktail shakers and single lights hang from strings on the ceiling, with the intimate, high-stooled tables of two screaming out for a date night. The space is nice but not pretentious, sleek but not overly posh. So far, so very Shoreditch.
This place bills itself as a ‘neighbourhood bar’, a description that’s not inaccurate. For a Wednesday night, it filled up fast, with friendly chatter from owner Alastair Burgess (who also runs the award-winning Happiness Forgets in the basement below), providing welcomed recommendations from the robust drinks menu. The expertly made house gin martini, pre-batched and served in a frozen glass, was divine. The Cenote Fizz – a terrifying blend of tequila, mezcal, aloe, lemon, lime, absinthe, chartreuse and egg white – was smooth, smoky, and complex, with gorgeous zingy undertones.
Ever After’s menu, by chef Joni Ketonen (who previously worked at the Nordic restaurant Eldr in Belgravia, as well as The Fat Duck and Little Social), is an imaginative selection of seasonal small plates, with plenty of veggie options and enough meat (like the knockout steak onglet) to keep even the grumpiest of carnivores satisfied.
The Cenote Fizz was smooth, smoky, and complex, with gorgeous zingy undertones
First, I tried the aubergine custard. It’s like babaganoush, but on steroids (and on speed, and on crack). A delicate, buttery blend of roasted aubergine and cream, its sweetness sinks into your tongue with the first mouthful, the toppings of chives, white asparagus and sorrel adding a slight bitter crunch to cut through.
The other plates were almost as delicious. The heritage tomatoes with horseradish cream and fennel, topped with a soothing cucumber granita, looked artistic and was numbingly earthy. The mango burrata, a sculptural arrangement made with lime rind and crispy shallots, was fresh, bright, and interesting. The poached cod with a north African inspired spiced cauliflower 'couscous’, was textural and subtly fragrant, without overwhelming the buttery, lemony softness of the fish. Man, even the skin on chips hit the spot.
It’s a plate of indulgent goodness that you think you’ll probably won’t need, but actually, you really do
The dessert, an intriguing-sounding ‘chocolate nemesis’, was yet another hit. A chocolate mousse with pipings of meringue, a scattering of crunchy cacao nibs, and a dollop of melting brown butter, was rich but light, with lots of juicy caramel undertones. It’s a plate of indulgent goodness that you’ll think you probably won’t need, but actually, you really do.
With plates priced around a tenner and cocktails just £9.50, it’s pretty affordable for the area and quality. There were even free period products in the loo (talk about bonus points). As it goes, this place isn’t just any old neighbourhood bar: the plates were top notch and the drinks were near exceptional. It’s not a happily ever after, because I’ll definitely be back.
The vibe Intimate and trendy – great for dates.
The food A hauntingly delicious fairy tale.
The drink Wine, beer and sultry next-level cocktails.
Time Out tip Don’t want the night to end? Head downstairs for a tipple at sister bar Happiness Forgets.