During my initial writing days, I was sent to a stylish restaurant called The Fable, which had only recently opened to a general wave of admiration for the dynamic Drake and Morgan group. Naturally, I wanted more of this sort of dining experience – exciting, bubbly and engaging – so I got in touch with someone from their team, who was so swift in assisting me with a reservation for two that I had barely any time to book the journey to the Capital! This is the London way, apparently; where nothing halts and nobody stops – just the way I like it.
The Happenstance is a trendy new hot spot situated within walking distance of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, engulfed in an energetic array of architectural brilliance and buzzing night life. Ellie and I chose to visit in the breezy evening and would have been delighted that The Happenstance’s interior reflected the moody darkness of a fashionable London night, had we not been hyper aware of the sudden appearance of winding steps – and what that meant for our footwear… It was dimly lit in a way that makes the term sound like the inside of a tanning bed. To aid eyesight, however, there were tastefully displayed candles throughout the building, as well as the occasional artisan lamp, which only added to the sense of mystery and exclusivity that pervaded the restaurant. As an admirer of the Drake and Morgan style, I have to say that this look was not a surprise to me: the clues can always be found in the names of their chosen haunts – names the hint at the surreal, whether from dreams or fairy-tales, and revel in the unexpected. We had the option of beginning our Happenstance experience at the bar, where the ambiance was an electric hum of young professionals blowing off steam, chatting animatedly while sipping cocktails or champagne. Actually, one couple, no older than 22 I bet, sat giggling hysterically over a generously sized bottle of fizz – Prosecco, perhaps – and nothing else. So charming was this whole scene that I nearly forgot my keen appetite. As we opted to jump right into the dining experience, however, we were lead to a different section of the building.
We noted how different a ‘scene’ it was from the one of 5 metres and 30 seconds ago and although impressed by the sophisticated calm of the dining section, I found that I missed the energy of that earlier ambiance. But food is food and it must be taken seriously – who am I to disagree with that? We started with a cocktail each – Ellie, rather regrettably, detests wine. We had the same tipple (aptly called Princess Sparkles), a delightful blend of blackbury, elderflower, peach bitters and prosecco, which sent me, the embarrassing lightweight, immediately giddy. The accommodating staff were keen to help us pick our starters and suggested, even strongly recommended, the flatbread. Ellie indulged. I, on the other hand, clung to the promise I’d made to myself that the Tempura Crispy Squid would be gorgeously scrummy – and it was! Then again, so was Ellie’s Crispy Chicken flatbread. Despite our refusal of wine, the manager kindly offered up a strong French red – a Chateau Peyrat, their ”lovely house claret,” from Bordeaux, France. If there was ever a wine to convert a wine shudderer, this was not it for Els. But I loved it. It reflected the restaurant’s moody atmosphere: quite sharp, with a gradual likability factor, but ultimately, an acquired taste.
The Main Courses almost killed us. For me, my succulent Suffolk Lamb Shank and mash (a fail-safe, simple, mess-free choice I wrongly presumed) was too generous in size and richness. Had I been a broad-shouldered rugby star winding down after a rigorous match then this would have been a perfect match for me. So, warning: don’t order unless famished. Considering how generous the portions of the starters had been might have done me a favour in choosing my second plate of the evening. Ellie, by contrast, was only fazed by the elaborate embellishment of a king prawn resting on her Fish Pie (with, mind you, a potato cheddar crust) but thought the whole thing delicious. I, good friend that I am, took care of the fishy poser. I hasten to add that we were on different cocktails, by this point: I with All that Glitters is Gold (Ketel One vodka, cloudy apple and ginger, with golden vanilla sugar) and Ellie on a Jonnie Walker, London honey, cinnamon and fresh apple concoction called London’s Burning.
All that was left was to giggle through our desserts, or as they call it at the Happenstance; Pudding & Afters…
The Winterberry Crumble was a subtle sweet-sour delight, as was Ellie’s Wagon Wheel (a mini feast of toasted meringue, raspberry sorbet and shortbread). You’d have to take her word for it, though, because she didn’t share a single bit with me, nor I with her… One thing I will say, as I a word of warning, is that as the night wore on, the busier the restaurant became and at one point it was a little bit of a fight to get the staff’s attention… Therefore, I would suggest picking an evening during which you’d really have the time to relax and not sweat being inadvertently brushed off once or twice. It’s the way it goes when you choose to dine in a popular, ‘to-be-see-in’ venue. We didn’t mind, it was a very small price to pay.
Admittedly, it was a little odd that we sat there taking pictures but neither the staff nor the other diners minded, especially as we were as discrete as could possibly be. This should explain the dodgy angles and shady backgrounds in these images. Pedro was in Paris, so no editorial shots to be found this Monday. I have to admit that it was great to go back to ‘basic’ blogging: the good old days when a sneaky iPhone shot here and there could do the trick. We had a blast explroing the area while simultaneously hunting down an UBER hot spot – that is, the areas that our UBER maps indicated were particularly populated by free drivers. I took several interesting shots, with ‘edgy’ angles and ‘purposely blurred lights’ and I hope you guys like this different slant to my blogging style. I didn’t have time to tell you about how fantastic our whole day was, but I was so happy to end it at The Happenstance and very grateful that this platform is allowing me to experience so many new things!!