The folks behind Espana restaurant – executive chef Neil Taylor, partners Edward Perrow and Georgia Goritsas – have opened a second West End restaurant.
The Fat Badger is an exemplary gastro-pub that channels the chef’s British heritage. Mr. Taylor hails from Berkshire, England. A daily changing chalkboard menu tweaks the British pub canon with local, seasonal ingredients and a refined touch.
The 19th century home that had housed fine-dining Le Gavroche since 1978 has been transformed into a dark, cozy lair with sage-grey walls, tufted leather hunter-green banquettes and long communal tables carved from reclaimed Douglas fir.
Laid back and convivial with a hugely hummable Brit-hit soundtrack – everything from the Specials to the Rolling Stones – played quietly in the early evening, then cranked up later when the lineups started forming.
The beer menu is 100-per-cent British with nine taps pouring imperial pints of Fuller’s, Guinness, Kilkenny, Smithwick’s, Innis & Gunn and cider. There is no cask ale, unfortunately. Bottles and cans include a relatively rare lineup that includes McEwan’s Scotch Ale, Orkney Skull Splitter, Wells Banana Bread and Old Speckled Hen. Limited wines are available by the glass and bottle. A small classic English cocktail list will be introduced soon.
A fun bite-sized menu ($5 to $10) includes soft-yolk Scotch eggs in a puddle of tangy HP sauce and the tongue-in-cheek Imperial poutine – chips doused in spicy chicken masala, cilantro, paneer and cheese curds.
Fresh salads and seasonal stuffed zucchini flowers reflect the relatively new lightness and brightness found in English cuisine. Warm potato and smoked mackerel salad is stained pink by beets and dotted with tiny yellow quail eggs. Mini Yorkshire puddings have buttery crusts, tender slices of perfectly pink medium-rare roast beef, divine dark-brown gravy and nasal-hot horseradish crème fraîche. Black pudding on toast – pan-seared to a crispy crust and larded up with silky pork fat – is generously sprinkled with morels and chanterelles and rounded out with the oozing yolk of a perfectly soft poached egg
Yes, they have fish and chips with mushy peas and house-made tartare. But there’s also roast sockeye salmon with beet greens and cheddar fritters. Pies and tarts with flaky pastry and fresh sides change daily. Irish porter beer bangers (from Windsor Meats) are served on a bed of velvety mashed potatoes with fried sage and superbly sweet veal-and-pork gravy.
Four are served each night, including a decadent sticky toffee pudding bathed in butterscotch and the light, airy Eton Mess thrown together with meringue, whipped cream and B.C. cherries.
As of July 16, The Fat Badger will be open for lunch and brunch. A home-style roast will be served on Sunday afternoons.
From playlist to puddings, they’ve nailed it.