The Fat of the Land, 35 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 9TR
However, The Fat of the Land was our destination, a newly opened Spanish gastropub-come-restaurant hidden behind the bustling streets of Marylebone. Run by Michael Kittos and Tony Wolfe, the duo responsible for The Queen’s Head & Artichoke in Regent’s Park and The Norfolk Arms in Bloomsbury. We had high hopes for this place and were really looking forward to some Spanish cuisine, having not had any since our trip to Madrid in September.
The kitchen is headed up by Alfonso Lillo Fas – a finalist in the Spanish version of Professional Masterchef and previously a Mandarin Oriental sous chef.
From the outside it looks pretty and very cosy, outdoor seating and flowers sprouting from window boxes. The kind of place you walk past and just have to go in. Inside the bar area looked like the place to be. A few diners casually perched at the bar, behind Jamon and dried chillies strung to the wall.
We were led upstairs to the almost empty dining room. Muted chocolate and cream tones, huge oversized moveable lamps on each table (handy for attempting to get better lighting for our snaps) and heavy oak furniture. As we sat we were met with near silence apart from the hum of a generator, until more diners arrived and the room filled up with chatter
The clientele was definitely of a certain type, we counted nineteen women and just four men. Certainly more affluent people than us, I don’t know why though as it was pretty reasonably priced. This seems to be where 30-something year-old women come to pop a bottle of bubbles and discuss what their next ‘investment’ handbag will be.
The menu is an eye-rubbing essay, full of indents, all in lower case and no line breaks. Our day job in magazines possibly got in the way of making it an easy read.
The wine list was of a good length though, but the lack of explanations of each wine was missing. Always helpful for people like us who don’t know enough about wine. We went for a bottle of Villa Anita Tempranillo £17.50 and despite tasting it, I didn’t enjoy it. Plus drinking red wine out of sherry glasses is a bit tricky when you don’t have a nose like Cheryl Cole.
We ordered the Pa Amb Tomaquet £3 (tomato bread) from the ‘Para Picar’ section (meaning ‘to pick’). This is one our most favourite things and sets our benchmark for the rest. It came DIY style, the tomato in a separate bowl. The bread looked homemade, although slightly too doughy in the centre. The tomato not salted enough, it is usually heavily seasoned, like the dish that we fell in love with in Barcelona earlier in the year. But then I guess when you see words such as ‘deconstructed’ and ‘emulsion’ on the menu you know this isn’t a typical tapas restaurant.
The Buñuelos de bacalao £6.50 (salt cod fritters) were the stand out dish by far, golden balls of soft flaky salted cod, the batter the perfect thickness. Braised oxtail, celeriac puree and truffle oil £6.00 was a slight disappointment, not enough oomph from the meat and far too many gristly fatty bits to contend with. Shame as on paper it sounds amazing. The Crab meat, avocado, chilli salad with crispy parmesan and Oleum Priorat olive oil £9 had a just a gentle chilli kick, a light, fresh interesting dish with plenty of juicy crab meat.
Before we’d even finished the waiter appeared with our mains, showering the table in more plates, a slightly overwhelming and rushed experience. The Pork paella (£11.50 per person) was enough for about four people, if only I could’ve taken some home. I get bored with typical seafood paella, this pork fest was a welcome change. Extremely smoky chunks of chorizo, odd cuts of pork mixed in with rice peppers, beans and even sliced artichoke.
Pan fried chorizo and smoked morcilla with Saffron soft polenta £9.50 wasn’t as great, the chorizo wasn’t as fabulously smoky as the paella. Ade who’s a big black pudding fan recoiled at the morcilla on his plate, too smooth for a blood sausage and the smokey flavour too overpowering. Luckily there was enough porky rice to go around.
Poor Ade was let down by his dessert too, Pear oat crumble with maple syrup £6. The driest sweet I’ve ever seen, some slices of pear hidden under the tower of crumble. This with custard would have been great but when it was all mixed together it wasn’t as dry as it looked. My Crema Catalana £4.50 was so-so, not as good as the last one I had at Boqueria. The crunch wasn’t satisfactory enough and it was so sweet it made my teeth ache.
We left feeling so full, the rice felt like it was still expanding in our swollen bellies. This time we avoided the earlier mentioned restaurants to avoid making our night even more of a disappointment than it already was. A shame as it’s a quaint little place, and great value, just not for us. Maybe we just like our tapas to pack more of a punch…
35 New Cavendish Street,
London, W1G 9TR
Tel: 020 7487 3030
Opening Times: Pub 11am-11pm Mon-Sat; Lunch 12-3pm
Mon-Fri, 12-4pm Sat;, all day Sun; Dinner 6-10.15pm Mon-Sat, all day Sun
Nearest Tube: Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Regent’s Park