The Happenstance is the sixth restaurant venture from the Drake & Morgan group since opening The Refinery in 2008, and the welcome is pretty impressive, with floor-to-ceiling window frames views of St Pauls. But could the venue live up to its glorious neighbour?
Well, just about.
When we visited it was a Wednesday evening but it was already pretty busy. The bar area seemed pretty popular with after work drinkers. My guest and I were taken into the large restaurant area to the rear of the building.
The dining area was quieter but gradually got busier while we were there, but we barely noticed. The menu looked good but the drinks menu really stood out. We were informed the cocktails were designed by international mixologists and inspired by the latest global trends in lifestyle, food and drink with ingredients sourced from the best London has to offer. The mixology table, which takes centre-stage, offers a list of original Happenstance fairytale cocktails with names like ‘Prince Charming’, ‘Love Potion #9’, and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. That was music to our ears and we tucked into the various cocktails was gusto.
We let the waitress choose for us, we are not fussy and to be fair they all looked great and not that expensive for a restaurant in the City. We did have quite a few (it would be rude not to) but the ones that stood out where Honey & Spice, London’s Burning and Skinny Lovely Bubbly, as well as a few others that I didn’t manage to catch the name of (the cocktails are pretty strong).
But it wasn’t all about alcohol, we ordered chicken satay with peanut sauce and prawn crackers and Tempura crispy squid with ginger and firecracker sauce as an entrée followed by Whole Scottish lobster lemon butter and fries and Suffolk farm lamb shank sweet potato mash, rosemary jus and harissa for mains with sides of Mac ‘n’ cheese with leeks and bacon and Sweet potato mash.
Usually I have Mrs TLE with me and we tend to share our meals, but not on this occasion and my companion wasn’t too keen. However peer pressure (bullying) won the day and he yielded to my demands. I am glad he did; his crispy squid and lobster were both awesome. My lamb shank and chicken satay were more than satisfying. The lamb was tender and the peanut sauce accompanying the satay was delightful.
Our very friendly waitress asked us if we wanted desert. We were pretty (very) drunk by this time, but there is always space for a “Wagon Wheel” toasted meringue and chocolate brownie. Both desserts were sweet, tasty and obviously not healthy, and nor should they be. As we left the restaurant, my fellow diner asked if I fancied another drink, but I couldn’t stomach another thing. I needed a glass of water and a lie down. I’m my opinion, the sign of a great meal.
The Happenstance can be found at 1 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M