Review: The Happenstance, City of London
Style Points: 3.5/5
When first entering The Happenstance, I thought I had happened upon a busy city bar with loud music and dim lighting. Whilst I thought this might be good for an after-work drink, I started to wonder how much I would enjoy eating in there, however we were whisked off towards the back of the surprisingly large building and taken to a vast modern looking restaurant which was much quieter than the front bar section. With giant piping on the ceiling and low-hanging lamps, The Happenstance creates the industrial but sophisticated atmosphere that so many restaurants strive for.
Would I Want Seconds?
Coming from a vegetarian standpoint, The Happenstance do better than most at making an effort with their mainly carnivorous menu. There are a couple of options in most sections for veggies which I was grateful for. I opted for the wild mushroom bruschetta for my starter and my companion ordered the goat’s cheese, squash, puy lentils and chilli salad. The mushroom dish was exactly what it said on the tin with an abundance of different types of mushroom and my companion really liked how the flavours of his interesting salad complemented each other.
For my main course, I chose the halloumi burger with hummus, red pepper and flat mushroom. The burgers do not come with sides so I attempted being adventurous and chose the cowboy fries with honey, chilli & garlic. The burger was enjoyable but it was not any different from the same burger at other restaurants. The cowboy fries were doused in honey and chilli but it strangely still tasted like a sweet ketchup. It brought me back to eating 3am chips drenched in tomato sauce after dancing for hours at the Student Union all those years ago. I'm not complaining though as I did enjoy them along with the nostalgia.
My companion's butternut squash risotto with mascarpone and sage was not as enjoyable. He found it terribly sweet and it reminded us both of a rice pudding. I understand that sweetness was to be expected from butternut squash, however it didn't seem like the sweetness was combated by any other flavour.
The dessert menu at The Happenstance is full of goodies. I, as ever, went for the chocolate dessert which was chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately they did not have any vanilla ice cream on that night so I had it with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was a chocaholics' heaven and was delicious! My companion had the winter fruit crumble with custard which was very substantial in size and pleasing to taste.
Could I Afford Seconds?
The food at The Happenstance varies in price. Starters are from £5-£7 and mains range from £9- £25. Desserts are around the £5 mark so you would not worry too much about money in The Happenstance as it is comparable to other London restaurants.
Overall I really liked the restaurant itself. The Happenstance is attractive and I felt that I could easily come back there with both vegetarian and meat-eating friends. It was oddly quiet on the night we visited and there are so many tables in there that it did make me wonder why they don't take some of them out, although it might be hugely busy at weekends.
There are good options for vegetarians on the menu but I think the main reason to return would be more for the venue itself along with the pleasant and helpful staff rather than solely for the vegetarian food.
Reviewed by guest writer Veggie Eats Lnd
Address: 1a Ludgate Hill London EC4M 7AA
Tube: St Paul’s