On Wednesday evening, I met up with Ceri for dinner at St Paul’s, which seems to be the best central point for us to meet after work. Recently we’ve been going to the chain restaurants in One New Change, but this week we thought we’d try somewhere new.
I looked up restaurants around the St Paul’s area and came across The Happenstance – the name really caught my eye, it sounded very unique! The restaurant’s website describes itself as the following: “immerse yourself in a world of curiously good times & happy coincidences at the happenstance. It’s sure to be a welcome addition to your little black book. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of london’s most iconic landmark, st paul’s, whilst our sophisticated interior encompasses a striking bar & restaurant, bountiful deli, mixology table & florist. Our glamorous subterranean private dining room or hidden speak easy “the curious treasury” awaits.” So I had pretty high expectations!
When we arrived, I was worried that I really hadn’t thought this through – Thursday nights are traditionally when people working in the city have drinks (and it can get a bit rowdy!). And being located right opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, there were already people crowding around the entrance to the bar. Luckily we were escorted through the bar area to the restaurant at the back, where it was a lot quieter, but still pretty busy.
First thing’s first – cocktails! I went for the ‘Flight of the Cucumber’ (cucumber, agave, liquor de violet, lemon, maraschino & hendricks) and Ceri chose a ‘skinny’ cocktail with cranberry (we just can’t remember the name of it!!). They were both very nice (but went down far too quickly – always dangerous when we’re out for mid-week cocktails together!!)
For food, I ordered the Norfolk Chicken Licken Pie with creamed broad beans and Ceri ordered one of the specials – Pan fried brill with baby leeks & brown shrimps butter. We also ordered two sides to share; roman fries with parmesan, truffle & rosemary and Brussel sprouts pancetta & chestnuts.
The food arrived fairly quickly and was served very nicely. My pie was delicious and I was really pleased that it was a ‘full pastry’ pie – a few places I’ve had a pie at over the past few years have been more like a casserole with a pastry top. That’s not a pie, in my book!! Only complaint would be that the Brill dish was a little small in portion size, so it’s a good job we ordered the two sides.
The restaurant and bar got busier as time went on and we found it increasingly hard to catch any of the waiters’ attention. We eventually managed to track one of them down and ordered some ‘Pudding Cocktails’ – the Cranberry Brûlée (tanqueray gin, cranberry sauce, egg white, sugar, lemon & a dash of danger!!) and the Tiramisu Martini (espresso, martini, gingerbread, Ketel One vodka & mascarpone).
These were fab – I loved the idea of a ‘pudding cocktail’ and they didn’t disappoint – especially the Cranberry Brûlée, served much like a creme brûlée, with burned sugar on the top.
I would visit The Happenstance again, but I’d pick a quieter day, and I’d probably go for the cocktails rather than the food, as this is where it really seems to shine. For instance, I just came across the following cocktail on their menu, which I totally overlooked when we were there: Skinny Goldfish in a Bag (served in a goldfish bag) “Take a tipsy fishy home with Little Bird Gin, mandarin vodka, rhubarb bitters, pink grapefruit ‘fish’, tonic & edible lily pads”. Curiouser and curiouser!