Leon Wenham


The Happenstance is a casual/intimate City hideaway that makes a perfect setting for an after work debrief with friends over some cocktails and nibbles courtesy of the expansive food options. I spotted a promotional menu tucked inside the main menu where £1 from each  dish is donated to a breast cancer charity – a great idea as we all know someone who has been affected by cancer.

The décor is a mix of chic meets rustic, a well presented after work crowd was in attendance, all very reminiscent of a New York lounge bar. My impression as I entered, was positive. My friend Andrei and I visited on a Tuesday night; it was quite busy and I was gearing myself up for an evening of pure indulgence.

After an initial wait of around three minutes we were finally acknowledged by a friendly female host, I couldn’t avoid invading her personal space (she couldn’t hear me otherwise) due to the music blasting loudly.

A few moments later a smiley friendly chap by the name of Marco introduced himself and assured us he’d be, ‘looking after us for the night.’

Andrei and I decided to get the night going in a way we only know best and ordered two of their finest Porn Star Martinis suitably priced at £9.95 each. I have to say they went down well, I always find the combination of the vanilla and passion fruit extremely delightful; this cocktail is adept at cleansing the pallet in readiness of a scrumptious meal.image

To start I had the Tempura Crispy Squid with ginger & firecracker sauce reasonably priced at £5.95, Andrei had the Portobello Road Flatbread which consisted of: Portobello mushrooms, British brie, parma ham & truffle oil, at a slightly heftier price of £9.95.

We waited around 15 minutes for our starter which was fine, however our drinks were absent and to be honest it wasn’t until after a few mouthfuls of our mains that our drinks arrived, once I had reminded Marco who promised to, “take care of us tonight,” that we were still waiting.

The cocktails were nice and went down a treat, as did the Passion Fruit Lemonades – ordered from the promotional menu- they were bliss, so refreshing and highly recommended.

The Tempura Crispy Squid was very chewy and tasteless; the batter tasted of stale oil, I was slightly disappointed. I have to say Andrei’s flatbread looked really appealing, 8/10 for presentation, he really enjoyed the taste of the truffle oil with the parma ham and the cheese – it definitely smelt divine.

I made a shortlist of mains which piqued my interest: Suffolk Farm Lamb Shank Sweet Potato Mash, rosemary jus & harissa £14.95, and Beer-Battered Haddock with Chips & tartare sauce £9.95.

As I love lamb shank, I chose to go with that. Andrei had the Rib-Eye, 10oz priced at £18.95,  and opted for extravagant Roman Fries served with parmesan, truffle & rosemary (£4.25). I threw in a side of Mac n Cheese with leeks and bacon for good measure, after all eating stodgy winter food is essential to beat our ‘Baltic’ like weather.image

Our mains arrived and I was salivating at the thought of my tender lamb. Initially it seemed to effortlessly fall off the bone and the first mouthful was delightful, tender and tasty, although it wasn’t very hot and appeared to have been standing for a while before arriving at our table – I did find certain parts of it really dry. I am not usually a fan of sweet potato, however, the mash was nice and fluffy while the combination of the rosemary jus and the harissa really jazzed this dish up.

The Mac n Cheese was delish, I don’t eat this very often but this little gem definitely was a pleasant surprise; rich, creamy and quite filling.image

Andrei’s Rib Eye was quite strange! He requested his steak medium; it was served in two pieces, half of it was medium and the other half was rare – very rare, so rare it was unedible. Andrei’s meal was also warm not hot and the steak was pretty tasteless.

Andrei did like his onion rings; I had a little taste, these were by far the best tasting thing on his plate, just the right amount of crispiness with a fresh fried onion taste 10/10 for these bad boys.

Marco did come over, after enthusiastically socialising with some guests more than others, to ask if everything was ok, I mentioned the tepid temperature of our food, Marco did apologise but neglected to take further action, I really felt disappointed at this stage of the evening.

I told Marco I was hopeful the deserts would be our meals’ saving grace; I have a very sweet tooth! Marco was very confident that the deserts would save the day but once again we were let down.Chocolate brownie landscape

I ordered the Mini Pudding Shots: chocolate brownie, wagon wheel & crumble priced at a very reasonable £7.95 for all three and the sizes were very generous. Andrei ordered the chocolate brownie and the wagon wheel.

Sadly all the deserts tasted very basic, I asked Marco what was in the crumble as it was very dry –first the meat now our puds, I can see a pattern forming! He informed me it was a mix of berries and crumble usually served with custard, but they had ran out, this was explained to me only after I asked.

All in all I wasn’t overly impressed which was a shame, although the venue was nice.

Overall verdict:

Price– £116.95 (excluding service) which included three cocktails.

Service – Average, while Marco was polite, he wasn’t very attentive, attention to detail was very poor.

Ambience –  Lively, busy, with a nice crowd and very cool décor.

Bathroom – Clean and satisfactory 4/5.

For reservations or further information please visit: www.thehappenstancebar.co.uk