What’s the vibe?
A pub having a midlife crisis. The neatly ordered tables suggest restaurant, yet the exposed piping, funky light fittings, and wine-barrel themed décor whisper of a yearning to go full Williamsburg. It all comes together very nicely; the Tappit Hen feels like a place for grown ups, but grown ups who still know how to have a good time.
It's devilish old uncle Fredrick, sporting a tweed jacket and purple polka dot cravat, inviting you to his club for a hand of bridge, a glass of port, and "maybe some female company after dinner." Uncle Fredrick is great.
What's the story?
The place is dripping with pedigree. A wine bar built on the site of a storied port merchant, the Tappit Hen is the latest offering from Davy’s, where City folk have been quaffing the finest vintages since Dickensian times. Think more Pinot Noir than Pornstar, then, but it’s certainly more contemporary than its cobblestones and carthorse exterior would suggest.
The steak menu has been curated as discerningly as the wine list
What to order?
Shockingly, the menu is big on wine and port. There are cocktails too, but since the signature is the ‘Portonic’ (you guessed it, Port and Tonic) it’s clear what the USP is here.
The wine list is as extensive as you might expect, and thanks to a unique method of pouring without removing the cork, even the fancy stuff is available by the glass. Great news for everyone as there’s no danger of a) having to remortgage the house or b) necking the whole bottle and propositioning the Uber driver. We’ve all been there.
How's the food?
It’s classy, and has a steak menu that has been curated as discerningly as the wine list. The beef might not be chocolate-fed, gently-massaged, conceived-to-a-soft-jazz-soundtrack Wagyu or similar, but they have a selection of beautifully aged and deeply flavoursome cuts that marry gloriously with the range of wines on offer.
You might argue that steak + wine is a combo that’s hard to get wrong, but there’s still a fair difference between Not Getting It Wrong and Getting It Bloody Right. (Yes, you better go rare.) The whole shebang is executed superbly, and makes the standard beef sliders and mini fish ‘n’ chips bar fare look like potato smileys and turkey twizzlers (remember those?).
Incidentally, Wednesday night is Steak Night – where a bottle of Davy's claret is yours for £20 provided you order two steaks or one sharing steak. And frankly anyone who tries to share a non-sharing steak shouldn't be allowed to eat steak in the first place. (At least, not Tappit Hen steak. Tesco steak, perhaps.)
The medieval wine cellar hits a much more intimate note
Will it bankrupt me?
It certainly could if you gave it the chance. Personally I’m a big fan of, you know, being able to eat for the rest of the month, so the aforementioned Davy’s claret is a capable accompaniment to a good bit of steak.
However it’s the City, and it’s a wine bar, so if you feel like having your palate enchanted and your credit card plundered, a bottle of the 1920 Sandeman (£980 – come at me) and the chateaubriand is an elegant way to do both.
Anything else to note?
Thanks to its history as a port storehouse, as well as the main dining area the Tappit Hen boasts a private room for cosier functions: a medieval wine cellar that hits a much more intimate note – though perhaps best not tell Uncle Frederick…
21-23 St Swithin's Lane, EC4N 8AD. For more info, see Davy's