Reviews of local restaurants on this blog are something I don’t usually do, but the arrival of an English style “gastro-pub” or “pub” not far from home, is something we were really looking forward to because of our great experiences in London! Just the name “The Fat Badger” had us hooked! And then if that was not enough, the food and beer programme is “British inspired” and we had very much enjoyed chef Neil Taylor’s cooking in the past. In other words, we went with every intention of loving this place!
It got even better for me as I have a bit of a “history” with the location, an old house where, during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s I spent a lot of time and money enjoying excellent French cuisine and wine at Le Gavroche restaurant! Jean Luc Bertrand, the owner, was an amazing host who introduced me to some delicious cooking from his country and I was half expecting to see his ghost there the night we went!
When we arrived at 7:30 the place was about 50% full and continued to be at least that during the evening with people coming and going, pretty good for a Tuesday night! I am sure The Fat Badger is a very welcome spot in a neighbourhood chock full of high-rise apartments.
The “décor” has been changed up with wood and dark walls. Unfortunately the original fireplace has been changed, a shame as it was a particularly nice focal point in the room. Both of us thought it seemed to lack that “English pub” character or feeling . You can see by clicking the following links what I am on about. The Harwood Arms, The Crown Tavern both in London and the Crow and Gate in Cedar, near Nanaimo.
Besides being presented with a daily sheet there are two chalkboards listing the menu items. We like to order a variety of things to share except this time we ordered different mains just to check them out and then tried what each other had ordered.
To begin with we had a Scotch egg. The sausage coating was tasty, nice and crisp with a slightly runny Yolk but the bed of HP sauce overwhelmed the egg with a heavy taste of cloves. Our preference would be to lose the HP with maybe just a sprinkling of coarse sea salt on top.
Next up was the slow roasted heirloom tomatoes with Wensleydale cheese. How can you go wrong with roasted tomatoes? It was basically a bruschetta made using thickly sliced toasted bread with shavings of cheese. The Wensleydale was pretty much overwhelmed by the tasty roasted tomatoes.
Then there were 3 mini-Yorkshire puddings with roast beef, gravy and horseradish sauce. Roast beef and horseradish is a pretty good combo in our books! The gravy was also quite decent. For our taste, the beef could have been a little less cooked but it was tender and tasty.
Our mains consisted of an order of crispy ox tongue on a pile of colcannon garnished with crispy fried onion rings that for some reason were pretty tasteless. The colcannon was great; unfortunately the crispy tongue had been a little too long in the pan and was overly crisp.
How can you pass up fish and chips in an “English style pub” so I didn’t! I was particularly interested in seeing how theirs compared to the awesome fish and chips we enjoyed in London and Canterbury. The chips were properly cut thick chips, and not greasy nor salty, a big plus! The traditional mushy peas were, well traditional, made with marrowfat peas; not my cup of tea. In the past, I have liked them but they were made with fresh peas. The batter was OK but the fish, unfortunately, was mushy. I really have to say we prefer the fish to be cut thicker and just one larger piece, instead of three thin long strips.
We avoided the “sticky toffee pudding” on the dessert menu and not because we don’t like it a lot but we make it at home, so we opted instead for the warm ginger pear pudding with whiskey custard. This was an excellent combination and I would not only order it again but would recommend it! There may have been a bit too much custard but then can there ever be too much custard??
The bar offerings include some “English” themed cocktails, ten beers on tap, a selection of bottled beer and a relatively short, uninspired white and red wine list, in other words, not much to be seen here! The draught beers were from large English producers like Fuller’s, Kilkenny, Smithwicks and Guinness. You can order either a half or full pint at a fair price. However, both the Fuller’s London Pride and I & G were nothing special! If you are looking for an introduction to unusual more artisanal English styled beer you probably wouldn’t find it here and that was a disappointment. My wine was white, cold and wet…with a 4 ounce pour being $9.00.
We would like to see The Fat Badger include in their beer programme great, locally made English style beer from craft breweries and there is a lot here to choose from! And come to think of it…how about some “flights” of beer tastings??