The Drake and Morgan restaurant group have been slowly conquering the London suit-bar scene since opening The Refinery in 2008, creating just the kind of bars where accountants hold birthday parties, meetings and Thursday night knees-ups. The general rule seems to be “no suit, no service”, so I went to their seventh offering, The Fable, dressed to the nines in my Shoreditch finest.
Getting in was easy, but finding a table that wasn’t reserved or swarmed by people five years older than me – and approximately five times richer. We explored all three floors of the bar on Holborn Viaduct until finding a table, but sustained attempts to catch a waiter turned into stalking one across the bar and dragging him back to the table. When we did, we were abruptly told that although we could order food with him, we had to elbow our way to the bar to order drinks. This two-step process is one step too long.
…added to the airy-fairy atmosphere…
While my friend prepared for battle at the bar, I admired the wallpapers: tropical palm trees not dissimilar to H&M’s 2013 bestselling bikini, and another covered with pages from storybooks, cutely reflecting the theme of the bar. Lilac ribbons on the waiters (when you could spot them), tiny flickering candles and newspaper-wrapped potted plants on the table added to the airy-fairy atmosphere, which was interrupted by rhythmic club music booming out over the speakers.
What also broke the bar’s spell was being told, at 7:15pm, that my table had been booked for 6pm and we had to move. No, that’s not a typo. I duly moved three tables down, just coinciding with my friend returning with the drinks: a decent mojito for her (£7.50) and a large glass of characterless Merlot for me (£5.95).
…whoever came up with that combination was deep in the depths of their worst hungover….
Twenty minutes after ordering, our sharing platter arrived in a glamorous wooden apple tray: the “life is too short to be shellfish” was unavailable, so instead we had the “to share or not to share” (£15.95). The answer is, absolutely, “share”. Mini hot dogs with murdered onions; chicken kebabs with creamy peanut sauce; mini dry-as-a-bone burgers; potato and sweet potato wedges; extremely oily prawn crackers; marinated olives; and, bizarrely, garlic bread on brioche. Whoever came up with that combination was deep in the depths of their worst hangover.
As difficult as it was to get a table, it proved even harder to leave: no one seemed to want to bring the bill. I ended up chasing another waiter across the bar for the privilege of handing over money before making a quick escape into the chilly Holborn night where, amazingly, I could still hear. Miracles do happen, just not in fantastical farcical world of The Fable.
The Fable, 52 Holborn Viaduct, EC1A 2FD
Food: 2.5 Stars
Drink: 2.5 Stars
Service: 3 Stars
Overall: 1 star