The Happenstance in St Paul’s
The Happenstance is the sixth restaurant venture from the Drake & Morgan group since opening The Refinery in 2008, but avoids all of the banal homogeny that can be expected of a typical chain. In fact, nothing in this jolly and jaunty hotspot is at all predictable as they carefully balance playfulness and artistry while remaining a suitable choice for professional city folk.
The food itself completely subverts expectations: a Lobster Bisque served as a cappuccino, Smoked Duck disguised as a glazed cherry, Chocolate Truffles offered in jewellery boxes, and a Beetroot Slushy served as a milkshake. It’s cheeky, fun and delightful in its daring, exhibiting hints of Heston Blumenthal without the outrageous ingredients. However, in its attempt to be creative in presentation, it can be argued that some of the necessary flavour has been sacrificed; the duck was slightly tough and the beetroot was too earthy. But ultimately, such flaws are tempered by the sheer wonder of the place. The Happenstance is as close to the Mad Hatter’s tea party as you are likely to find beyond the realms of Victorian fiction. The cocktails are not just innovative and imaginative, they are phenomenal. With a massive range from the outrageous (such as Popping Corn and Hoi Sin) to the obvious classics, every drink is made with careful craftsmanship. They even offer a rather delicious range of skinny cocktails, all fewer than 200 calories, for those watching their weight (or wanting to drink more).
The menu, especially the brunch selection, appears very promising indeed, offering more traditional gastro food as well as the mad stuff. Additionally, the prices are surprisingly competitive, especially considering the restaurant’s brilliant location opposite the iconic St Paul’s. The staff is enthusiastic in their approach to creating an exciting experience for diners, which contributes significantly to the bustling atmosphere.
Overall, everything in this place just falls together, making the name Happenstance particularly appropriate. As well as a bar and dining area, there is also a deli, a mixology table and a florist, and for some reason it works. It is certainly worth a visit for those looking for a little wonder over lunch, or a great cocktail bar that won’t cost a fortune.
The Happenstance: 51/60
To book a table at the Happenstance, 1 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M, call 0845 468 0104 or visit here.