When Le Gavroche closed last month after some 35 years in business at 1616 Alberni, I half expected to see its old Victorian shell knocked down in favour of some crappy condo that a prominent architect staffed out to a junior with a lazy eye. Despite the best efforts of Chef Robert Guest, the place felt done after longtime owner Manny Ferreira decamped for Miradoro in the Okanagan, which sort of explains why a bailiff had to eventually slap a notice on the locked front door exclaiming $80,000 in unpaid rent. To put it another way, nobody went.
The good news, of course, is that it’s not going to be demolished to make way for the kinds of buildings that have robbed Coal Harbour of the personality it used to have. It’s been picked up by chef Neil Taylor, Ed Perrow, and Georgia Goritsas, the same triumvirate that brought us Espana on Denman Street two years ago. They signed the deal on the space earlier today.
It’s going to be a proper British gastropub, which makes sense since both Perrow and Taylor are English imports.
They’re calling it The Fat Badger.
“Before we opened Espana,” Perrow says, “Neil and I always talked about a doing a proper pub when we sat and reminisced about the places we used to drink at in Chiswick and Hammersmith.” So what does a “proper pub” mean? I’ve been told to expect some local craft beers plus a few British classics (London Pride, Fullers, etc.), a little “by the glass” wine list, a handful of cocktails, and Neil’s always reliably good food. “We want to keep the menu small,” Perrow points out, adding that the goal is to change it two or three times a week, “depending on what we are getting in fresh from local suppliers.”
Taylor says we can anticipate a “casual, warm environment” with British gastropub-style dishes. At dinner, “you can expect to see dishes such as roast pork belly with colcannon; black pudding and cider; grilled lamb with pea purée, morels and mint sauce; roast cod with spinach, baby onions, wild mushrooms and red wine; and some classics like Lancashire hot pot and braised oxtail with suet dumplings. Appetizers could feature potted Dungeness crab with buttered toast, fried pigs trotters with English mustard, or jellied ham hock and rabbit terrine with piccalilly.”
And what about lunch?
“For lunch we will have a delicious burger with aged English cheddar or even Stilton; a daily pie such as fish, steak and kidney pudding, chicken, ham and leek; and soups such as cock-a-leekie, Cullen skink, or game and lentil. For desserts, we will have dishes like eton mess, sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream, treacle tart with custard, lemon meringue pie and arctic roll, homemade ice creams, and a great selection of British and Irish cheeses. Bar snacks could include black pudding scotched eggs with HP sauce, hand-cut fries with curry sauce, London pride battered cod and chips with tartare sauce.”
Sounds great, but will there be roast beef and Yorkshires? Yes. Every Sunday, The Fat Badger will be tabling a special traditional roast, be it rib of beef with Yorkshire puddings and horseradish “or roast leg of lamb with mint sauce or roast pork shoulder with hot English mustard and apple sauce.”
The Fat Badger will be open for lunch and dinner, with brunch service on the weekends. Hours will probably be 11am to 11pm. Expect a quick turnaround on this. I imagine they’ll be ready for their first service at some point in April.