by Andrew Morrison | Ed Perrow and chef Neil Taylor have officially opened the doors of their new eatery, The Fat Badger, at 1616 Alberni Street in Coal Harbour. If that address sounds familiar, it’s because it used to house the once revered Le Gavroche eatery, long celebrated for its shockingly deep collection of Old World red wines (it’s former owner, Manny Ferreira, moved on to open the award-winning Miradoro restaurant in the Okanagan). If Perrow and Taylor sound familiar, it’s because they also own/operate the well-received Espana eatery just down the road in the West End.
Scout broke the news of The Fat Badger’s coming at the end of February, which is to say that it’s been a pretty quick build. As you can see from the images below – if your memories of Le Gavroche serve you vividly – it’s a very different eatery than what it used to be, with bespoke high-top tables and buttoned-up banker’s banquettes, chalkboard menus, and a three-headed heroin hydra photograph of Spud, Renton, and Begbie from the film Trainspotting smiling mischievously down from the wall, sizing up all those assembled.
The feel is cozy enough, and though it doesn’t remotely resemble the sort of place that would make Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (at their silliest) feel at home, it’s a sight more genuine than any of the (regrettably many) cookie cutter “public house” pretenders that have, in recent years, soiled the milieu in Vancouver.
The drinks list reads almost the same as those in every high street pub from Penzance to Dover (all the typical brands and even a few Auntie specialties are represented), and the food isn’t as fancy as you would think given Taylor’s pedigree (he was the chef at Cibo before opening Espana, and before that he was at London’s River Cafe, once home to Jamie Oliver). That doesn’t mean the quality isn’t there. On the contrary, everything I’ve tried so far has been delicious. Think proper beer-battered fish and chips (the batter not too crispy and the chips nice and fat); decadent, flavour-locked Welsh rarebits held together by exquisitely crisped Irish cheddar; adorable miniature Yorkshire puddings mounted with slices of roast beef drowned in excellent gravy; bowls of salty pork scratchtings (built for the mouthwash of English beer); hot chicken tikka masala over fries (already nicknamed the “Empire Poutine”); and first-rate sticky toffee puddings.
The music, like the proprietors, is all British, which sort of wraps the whole restaurant up with a pretty ribbon, complete with billowing bow. During supper’s course (or two pints’ duration), one will typically hear David Bowie, The Clash, New Order, Joy Division, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, The Rolling Stones and more, one after the agreeable other. I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack, and if I’m to be totally honest, it was the ooh-oohs of Emotional Rescue that had me on side the moment I walked in the door. Well, that and the fact that there wasn’t a television in sight.
The Fat Badger is open from 5pm, 7 nights a week (we can expect lunch service to launch before summer’s end). They don’t have a website yet, so use the photos below if you need convincing…