I had heard good things about Happenstance. Amazing brunch. Excellent lunch. Great for drink. Excellent style. I was so sad to be so thoroughly disappointment.
I rang up and made a booking the day before for a long lunch. When I arrived, it took over 10 minutes for me to get seated. Not only did I have to stand and wait but all four serving staff saw me and promptly ignored me. Not even an acknowledgement and an “I’ll be with you in a minute…”. When someone finally came up to find out why I was standing in their doorway, I was greeted with “Do you have a problem?”
When I was (finally!) shown to my table the hostess told me they were extremely busy, however, as you’ll see from some of the photos of the dining room there were only about 20 people and at least 4 wait staff wandering around.
The dining room itself was beautiful. Titles, exposed wooden floor boards and a kind of shabby chic look to it. The tables were simply set with nice glassware and herbs at the centre of each table. The atmosphere of the dining room felt kind of dead being so empty but I can imagine on a busy weekday it would be nice and busy.
I was a little bit surprised where they sat us considering the dining room was empty. The table was right up the back next to the kitchen in the corner. If the hostess hadn’t been so quick to leave, I would have asked for her to move us.
After about 20 minutes, a waiter finally appeared to take our drinks order. There is a very comprehensive cocktail menu with classics as well as a few more interesting, signature cocktails. The wine was quite reasonably priced and I selected a glass of prosecco. We also ordered some olives (in case they never came back as they told us they couldn’t take our meal order just yet).
The drinks did come quickly (and we made him take our meal order) and the olives were lovely. They were served in a parsley, capsicum and lemon olive oil. The olives were lovely and mild (not too salty) and the larger black olives were stuffed with capsicum. They went very well with the prosecco and were a lovely little treat to start the meal.
I went for the crab and crayfish linguini with chilli with a rocket salad to share with my friend. To be completely honest, I wasn’t impressed. I was expecting a light and fresh linguine with lots of seafood and a touch of chilli. Instead, it was more like a tomato soup with the odd piece of seafood. The pasta was cooked well to start with however, the pasta kept cooking in the sauce and by halfway through the meal, it was very overcooked.
I also wasn’t impressed with the flavour of the sauce. The sauce needed parmasen cheese but it wasn’t offered and the waiter was off so quickly after he set the food down I couldn’t ask for it or the tap water and salt and pepper we also needed.
We ended up getting our own tap water and salt and pepper from the surrounding tables however, we had to wait for for the waiter for parmasen and olive oil. When we finally caught him (halfway through the meal), you would have thought that we’d asked for something outrageous with the pout that came with the cheese and olive oil.
I should mention the salad. It was nice with proper balsamic vinegar and a good quantity of grated parmasen cheese however, the rocket itself was without flavour and it was very dry without the olive oil. To their credit, the olive oil was of good quality as well when it finally arrived.
I also tasted the Cottage Pie that my friend ordered. The Cottage Pie had a rich gravy and was full of chucks of meat and vegetables. The topping to the pie was swede which made a lighter change to the mash potato that usually tops Cottage Pie.
While we were eating the hostess came up again. I had my coat resting on the seat next to me. The hostess wanted to seat a party of six people on the table next to us, despite the rest of the dining room being entirely empty. Of course, I did it but it just seemed really odd that – after everything else that had happened during this meal – that she would make us feel cramped when the rest of the dining room was empty.
After another 15 minutes we were asked if we’d like desserts and coffee. I chose a skim cappuccino and the flourless brownie. The waiter tried to a flirty way to tell me I didn’t need a skim cappuccino, I was beautiful already however, I strongly suspect that they didn’t have any skim milk.
Again, it was a disappointment. The brownie was over cooked and rock hard. It had none of the gooey, oozey texture that you’d expect from a brownie, especially a flourless one. In fact, I suspect that the brownie had flour in it. The coffee was nice although the cup was completely impractical. I had to drink it with the napkin around the cup to hold it.
Despite the fact we would have had another cocktail, the hostess came up at 5pm to tell us that we would have to leave by 7pm as they had a comedy night unless we wanted to buy a ticket. At that point we decided we’d had enough and bailed out to go to Jamie’s Barbecoa to grab a final drink.
To be honest, I was really disappointment. Unless The Happenstance is a completely different place in the week, I really would recommend it. The service was poor, there was no atmosphere and I make a far better pasta and brownie myself.
Not one for the record books.
1 Ludgate Hill
London EC4M 7AA
T: +44 845 468 0104