Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Rebecca Anne Milford1
Brunch @ The Happenstance, St Paul’s
Summary: An extensive menu that will tantalise and excite and a funky atmosphere that remains relaxed; The Happenstance is truly a place you want to make a beeline for.
Not by Chance
Ah, brunch – once that exclusive in-between meal for ladies with cream twin-sets, pearls and dogs the size of their handbags, created as an excuse to spend more money on afternoon fizz while discussing the latest fundraiser/facelift/fraternisation.
Luckily it has been eked out of Chelsea, extended to Clapham, and now any borough worth its Eggs Benedict has a place that is renowned for being a good spot to while away the hazy hours between morning and afternoon. There are a few rules for brunch – the main one being that is a meal Not To Be Rushed. Hurrying brunch is a sacrilege, and one that completely defies the object. Often one is feeling a tad tender from the night before, and therefore needs the twin benefits of carbs and hair of the dog.
It was with this in mind that I approached The Happenstance, another of the gorgeous Drake and Morgan sites that always make me want to take a million photos and copy their decor in my flat (until I get home and realise that just one of their high steel chairs is as much as the budget for my entire kitchen). Luckily I wasn’t feeling in any way hungover, but I was meeting a friend who I hadn’t seen for a long time – another requirement for brunch; plenty of gossip, chat and catching up.
The Happenstance didn’t disappoint on decor. Light and airy, it stands in the centre of London and yet has the calm of a well-fashioned oasis. Industrial chic of exposed piping and shiny metal tables and stools are offset with elegant monochrome floor tiles, cosy, squishy armchairs and what looks like apothecary chests used as a bar. There are plants and candles to add extra allure, and the whole feel is just what one wants at midday – charming and chilled.
So, on to the brunch menu – but first, a DIY mimosa to be getting on with. A glorious little coupette was placed in front of us with straw-pale fizz and little shots of orange juice and fruit puree if we fancied a bellini. The attention to detail was lovely, the staff were attentive, but at the same time it was obvious we were having a chin wag so they never rushed or pushed our order.
When we did order it took longer than expected because of the sheer variety. Of course there are the staples – bacon butties, market breakfasts, poached eggs Royale, Benedict and Florentine, Greek yogurt and muesli… but remember this is not simply breakfast, and so a few curveballs are throw in. Inspired by travels, these include the Californian Kickstart – poached egg on rye with avocado – or the classic American pancakes for those with sweeter tastes. I was lured in by the corn fritters, which came with baby spinach, grilled halloumi, tomato kasundi and poached egg. Well, you had me at halloumi.
When it arrived it looked beautiful on the signature blue-and-white plate – a cheeky bed of vibrant green spinach, two perfectly crisped corn fritters and those well-portioned wedges of cheese, stripy and warm from the griddle. The egg and tomato nestled together atop – when I cut into it, the yolk oozed down in a sun-yellow river. I was very careful to try a little piece of each on my first bite, and this turned out to the way forward – a slight crunch from the fritters combined with a salty, almost rubbery mouthful of halloumi which was expertly complimented by the sweetness of the tomato and runny egg. One of the best brunch dishes I’ve tried in a long time. My dining partner tried the Portobello road flatbread – special on for autumn, it’s a combo of Portobello mushrooms, British brie, parma ham and truffle oil that blended in harmony with each other on delicious dough with plenty of toppings.
It also seemed appropriate to try the Blood Mary – another roaring success, it arrived bright red, full of spice and flavour, with little pieces of Worcester sauce bobbing amongst the celery. And, since we were now in full swing on the cocktails, afterwards we thought it a good idea to try something from the exciting cocktail list – namely, the Smoking Gun Julep which was created by Pietro from The Happenstance. The Bulleit rye, spiced rum, lapsang souchong tea, fresh mint and a dash of angostura made for a drink not only delicious with its hint of spice and refreshment from the tea, but with a superb balance of flavours that made it utterly sip-able.
So, is this a place you should consider visiting if you want a good brunch? Absolutely, one hundred per cent. With an extensive menu that will tantalise and excite, cocktails that look great and taste ever better, a funky atmosphere that remains relaxed, and wonderful staff ready to accommodate your every need, then The Happenstance is truly a place you want to make a beeline for – don’t just leave it to chance.
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