Where did the idea for serving food on chopping boards come from? I first came across it back in the mid-noughties at Soho’s Boheme Bar and Grill and I’m pretty sure I didn’t like it.
And I don’t think my colleague Rosie is a fan either. The clue was in her comment – ‘please don’t tell me they serve their steak on a chopping board at the new place.’ The ‘they’ were the Drake and Morgan team behind City bar luminaries such as the Folly, the Drift and the Happenstance. The Fable is their latest venture and it occupies a hitherto socially barren area between the Holborn Viaduct and Farringdon road. The fact that you probably don’t know where I’m talking about says it all.
The Fable follows D&M’s now templated approach of applying a fantasy model (in this case, apparently inspired by fairy tales and Aesop’s fables) to a bar and restaurant setting. Spread over three levels from Holborn Viaduct down to Farringdon Road in a former 15th century dwelling house, it’s a big space. Apparently it can hold 1000 people standing and it felt that it was at capacity the night we visited. These bars are always popular and given it had only been open a week, there was every chance that it would be particularly busy. However a warning – The Fable is not the spot for a romantic dinner, particularly if you want to hear what your date is saying.
Nevertheless the Northerner and I are nothing if not worldly in terms of drinking and eating, so after navigating our way through the City boys and girls with trays of wine and shots to aid their flirtations, we reviewed the menu. If you’ve visited other D&M venues it will look very familiar with its ‘upmarket pub grub’ feel with a great selection of steaks and some seriously good fish dishes. Taking our cue we started with the tempura crispy squid and the prawn lollipops which were sweet and fresh and good for whetting the appetite. My chilli salmon fillet with green lentils was a good dish. However the Northerner’s 8oz fillet steak was even better. A very good cut that was cooked to perfection, and fairly priced at £24.
The flourless chocolate brownie was probably a step to far, given the cocktails, courses and wine that had preceded it, but it was quite moreish. Our lovely waitress did an amazing job navigating the throngs with our plates and the service overall worked hard. Her mock (or was it genuine?) cry of despair, "Where is my restaurant?" summed up the ambience of the place. Which to reiterate is very good for a City bar.
But if you want to eat I would suggest that earlier in the week (we went on a Thursday) or lunchtime would be better. Then you would appreciate the very good food, despite the fact that the steak is served on a chopping board.