The Fat of the Land

Fat of the Land – Pan-Mediterranean Pub and upstairs Dining Room in Marylebone:

 

I really liked the idea of a pub serving Spanish tapas and  specialising in Catalonian food.  And, initial impressions of The Fat of the Land were excellent.

fat of the land marylebone bar

Downstairs there’s a clean and stylish bar with ham and garlic hanging in the window, but with modern décor.  Upstairs, a dining room with wooden floorboards, individual standard lights for each table and muted colours.  It’s all in very good taste.

fat of the land dining room

 

We ordered a few para picar, small dishes to keep us going till the tapas arrived.  Smoked eel was the best of the trio – very tender, lightly smoked and pleasantly oily.

fat of the land para picar

Pa am tomaquet was just a bit too ‘clean’ for me.  Great bread (sour dough I think), nicely charred with a tiny plate of fresh tomato on one side.  No sign of garlic or oil – and to be honest at this time of year even Spanish tomatoes need a little help to bring out their flavour.  We asked, and were given a bottle of oil which we used to dress the bread which helped a lot. The olives were reasonable.

fat-of-the-land-octopus

Of the main courses, the pan fried baby squid with spring onions, cherry tomatoes, broad beans, new potatoes and honey was lovely with tender squid and perfectly softened tomatoes.

fat of the land salt cod doughnuts

I liked the salt cod doughnuts too, bufuelos de bacalao, which I’ve actually made an attempt at cooking in the past at a Catalan cookery class.  I did think they might have benefited with a bit longer in the pan to add a bit more crunch to the outside and a bit more flavour.  Or maybe we burnt ours when I was taught how to cook them?  The same was true of the patatas bravas which were served with a suitably spicy tomato sauce but missed that extra minute or so of caramelisation.

fat of the land patatas bravas

Braised iberico rabbit with garlic and white wine was nicely tender.  An enormous tapas portion too – almost enough for a meal in its own right.

fat of the land rabbit

The fennel and orange salad did look a little tired.  The menu claims it is marinaded and the slightly brown at the edge fennel looked as if the marinade hadn’t quite reached the spot.  It tasted fine though not fabulous and was very refreshing with a lovely mixture of fennel, orange and crunchy flaked almonds

fat of the land fennel and orange salad

My dining companion is something of a tortilla fan and he ordered the tortilla with salad.  It looked good to me, but I am no expert.  I do think how your tortilla is served is partly personal preference, he prefers a slightly wetter centre, but in all honesty I don’t think I’ve come across a Spanish restaurant where they ask you how well done you want your tortilla!

fat of the land tortilla

We shared almond cake for dessert, Tarta de Santiago, which was one of the best dishes of the day.

fat of the land dessert

Now, writing a review that is not altogether perfect is quite hard, especially when you are eating as a guest of the restaurant.   Despite the comments above, we both enjoyed our lunch and I’d happily pop in there if I was out shopping and wanted a friendly, easy place to eat.  Perhaps limiting the quantity of oil used is deliberate – of course it makes for a healthier meal that might just be right for the ladies who lunch of Marylebone. Or perhaps it was our limited selection of tapas with only one meat dish.  But, for me Spanish food is all about deep flavours, rich with olive oil and ripe tomatoes, garlicky messy dishes made with excellent fresh ingredients.  Somehow this missed the spot and my impression was  that it was mostly down to everything being just a little under-cooked.

I liked the décor and the menu itself is great, I just missed a bit of soul and maybe that’s just a question of giving the kitchen time to settle down!

The Fat of the Land
35 New Cavendish Street,
London W1G 9TR

The Fat of the Land on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

3.5 / 5 stars     
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Comments

  1. I imagine it would be difficult to right a review that isn’t a rave–I’ll be honest I tend to shy away from it myself when I read books and review them–but you handled this review with respect for the restaurant and presented the criticisms as your opinion and also offered reasons that the restaurant may have chosen to do things a certain way. I say job well done, Fiona–a solid and honest review.

  2. Thanks Cindy, it is a difficult balance because I can quite see that some people would love the way the food was served. It didn’t quite work for me, but the place itself was very pleasant and service very good. And, food is, well, a matter of TASTE…

  3. I’m sorry the meal wasn’t perfect. Maybe you’re right, though, Fiona; perhaps the limited use of oil and salt/spices is intentional. It seems like the atmosphere is nice, regardless.

  4. honestly, the food was fine and the atmosphere great. It just wasn’t quite as ‘dirty’ as I like my Spanish food. And that really is a matter of personal taste. I’ve tried quite hard to explain that, because some people will undoubtedly prefer it. But I can’t write an impersonal review on the blog – it’s meant to be a reflection of my own taste

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