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