The Fable, London

Mark Ludmon browses through the latest bar from London operator Drake & Morgan

As a model of patience, Drake & Morgan could probably feature in one of the morality tales penned by the Ancient Greek slave, Aesop. It is over a year and a half since the bar operator announced it had secured a new site in Farringdon in London, in the Sixty London office complex due for completion last summer. The new restaurant and bar has now opened at a cost of £2.2million, with a stunning interior inspired by Aesop’s Fables, which instructs us that good things come to those who wait.

The Fable covers three floors, packed full of interesting and quirky design details throughout the 10,000 sq ft space. As with Drake & Morgan’s other six London bars, the interior has been created with Fusion Design & Architecture who also drew inspiration from research trips to Istanbul, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

On the top floor, accessible via Holborn Viaduct, is the main bar area, with a mix of high oak tables and low-slung comfortable seating. It is decorated with palm wallpaper, retro copper and gold pendant lights which, along with shelves full of homeware and ornaments, give it a homely feel. These gifts are part of a shop that pops up during the daytime, while a butchers’ block table provides a space for masterclasses in cocktail-making, flambé and butchery.

The literary inspiration can be seen in the books and wallpaper used for wallpaper on the staircase down to the mezzanine dining area below. This level features chestnut leather chairs, burnt-orange fabrics, copper tables, pendant lighting and timber flooring plus bespoke Anglepoise lamps and a bar with rust-effect panelling.
On the bottom floor is another dining area, with an open kitchen to showcase the theatre of the chefs at work, alongside a bar with reclaimed terracotta flooring. This area is furnished with softer dining chairs for leisurely grazing and leather stools and zinc benches for social drinking. A statement design feature, inspired by Aesop’s storytelling, is the booth area surrounded by a curved wall of books. This floor also features an area called Bottles & Blooms, which is home to a florist, with a roll-top bath filled with flowers, and wine shop with a wall of bottles and tasting tables.

Located between London’s West End and the City, The Fable is open from 7.30am for breakfast through brunch and lunch to dinner. Food ranges from flatbreads and sharing boards to good-quality steaks, burgers and seafood. Diners can also call on the Bloody Mary and bubbles trolley where they can build their own cocktails at their table. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the venue is flooded with natural light during the daytime, but transforms into a late-night venue, open until 1am Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The team is headed by general manager Richard Underwood, who has joined from GM and operations manager roles at late-night operator Novus Leisure. The bar manager is Joe Belson who was most recently at Drake & Morgan’s City bar The Drift but previously worked at Brighton Music Hall and Ohso Social in Brighton. They preside over Drake & Morgan’s extensive cocktail list which ranges from classics, including a variety of Mojitos, to fairytale-inspired drinks such as George’s Marvellous Medicine made with Ketel One vodka, poppy liqueur, fresh lemon, sugar and poppy seeds. The signature Aesop’s Fable is a mix of Whitley Neill gin, Grand Marnier, crème de cassis, cherry bitters, juniper and cinnamon syrup, and fresh raspberries.

Overseen by Drake & Morgan’s mixologist Chris Edwards, the list features the skinny cocktails that the company has championed at its other bars, such as the Skinny Superfood Collins – Gin Mare, fresh basil, raspberries, blackberries, agave syrup and fresh lemon juice, topped up with soda and only 105 calories. There are also 40 wines available by the glass and a broad selection of beers, including 13 on draught. With its creative interiors and inventive drinks, The Fable is set to be another exciting chapter in the Drake & Morgan story.

fable mezzanine bar

The Fable, 52 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1 A 2FD Tel: 0845 468 0105

Who did it
Design: Fusion Design & Architecture
Lighting: Into Lighting
Lighting: Tom Dixon
Wallpaper: House of Hackney

Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Bar magazine.

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