REVIEW: The Fable, Holborn
The latest venture from the Drake & Morgan group (responsible for city favourites The Folly, The Anthologist and many others), we had mixed feelings about visiting The Fable. Undeniably inventive, each bar and restaurant dotted around the square mile (and beyond) is bright and airy, all ever-changing menus and fizzing, cutesy cocktails. The aim here is to cater to hoards of city workers by day and night, while still appearing fresh and ‘a bit different’ from monotonous nearby alternatives.
This formula undoubtedly works at all branches (we’ve never visited when they’re not rammed) but does nothing to disguise the chain feel of the brand, or the endless conveyor belt of suits queuing at the bar. All the spaces are gargantuan, the opposite of intimate – and as the evening wears on the stressed out crowd that came in at 5.30 begin to stumble about, the music getting louder and the bar even busier.
The Fable falls victim to the same thing, being in prime position under Holborn viaduct it’s crawling with boozed up workers come 7pm (though if you’re looking to pull, this is not necessarily an issue). Ignoring them though, and finding a table for dinner, you’ve got yourself the setting for a pleasant evening.
Decor is as quirky as possible for a such a large place; jumping on the storybook theme there are literary references everywhere, one special table literally encased in paperbacks. Pretty vintage crockery, industrial light fittings, delicate plant fronds and stacked bookshelves add some whimsy, more interesting than your average city bar for sure.
Staff are friendly and keen to explain the (sweet, fairytale-themed) cocktail menu and seasonal food options, which we found to be excellent for the prices. We sampled ‘London meatballs’ followed by a leg of roast lamb with sweet potato mash.
All was flavoursome and delivered piping hot and plates sailing past us to other tables looked great too – particularly the large fish pie with a prawn peeping out the top and a delicious-looking vegetable curry. The dessert menu was adorable, focusing on many childhood favourites we’d have loved to try. The toasted meringue with raspberry sorbet, chocolate and shortbread was a brilliantly modern take on the ‘Wagon Wheel’ and something we’d go back for.
If you’re looking for a cosy, drawn-out cocktail experience, we’d recommend the likes of BYOC, Nightjar or 69 Colebrooke Row – The Fable’s drinks are Instagrammable, yes, but the vibe here is quick and convenient with a twist – it’s not a venue you’d look forward to visiting for months on end. Go if the situation calls for fairly-priced drinks somewhere central, with no need to call ahead or queue down the street.
In short, ladies in search of something different than a Boots sandwich grabbed on the way to the bar and the usual after-work glass (OK, bottle) of Pinot are well catered to. We weren’t left spellbound, but putting your feet up on a Friday night with friends, fun booze and reliably good food definitely feels like magic.
Amy @ FashionBite xx
Address: 52 Holborn, Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD