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Restaurant review: The Fat Badger, Harrogate

The Fat Badger

The Fat Badger

The Fat Badger. It sounds like a country pub, tucked away in a picturesque village, with open fires and local characters propping up the bar.

So it comes as a surprise to find it in the centre of bustling Harrogate.

Despite this not being what the name may suggest, we were happily surprised by this – and the eaterie’s location.

The Fat Badger is in the White Hart Hotel, in the midst of the Montpelier area of the town, the chic-est part of what is a supremely chic place.

On Cold Bath Road, the White Hart has a prime position amongst trendy home furnishing shops, antiques emporiums and an array of other restaurants.

We entered through the pub side of the Fat Badger, which has its own entrance separate to the hotel.

That takes customers into a traditional-style hostelry with wooden booths and a long bar.

We were a little baffled about where to go until a friendly barman explained we could eat there or in the restaurant – the menu is the same.

It being Sunday lunchtime and us being more than ready for a roast dinner, we opted for the more formal surroundings.

A few steps into the hotel, we were shown into the dining room by one of the numerous serving staff.

In contrast to the bar, it was light, bright and decorated in a summery, whitewashed kind of way, all mismatched furniture and slightly random trinkets.

When we arrived we had the pick of most of the tables in one of the two large connecting rooms, though they quickly filled up after we sat down.

The menu is perhaps more suited to the relaxed ambience of the pub, taking in everything from sandwiches to pasta, steak to fish and chips.

For Sunday lunch there was an additional menu featuring roasts and other tempting options.

Diners can choose from either and seemed to be able to mix and match, though on close inspection we were a little confused to realise that some of the dishes on the two menus were the same, only at slightly different prices – a little odd.

Anyway, we both decided to pick from the Sunday lunch menu, which made things simpler.

Our orders had been taken by our efficient waitress, who also scored points by offering tap water and bringing it immediately.

Not long afterwards our starters arrived.

Oliver had plumped for a favourite of his which isn’t seen often enough – potted shrimps, served with warm bread (£5.95).

They arrived in a mini Kilner jar, preserved in delicious clumps of spice-infused butter.

However there was no sign of the warm bread, either when my dining partner’s starter arrived or in the few minutes we waited to see if it was following.

In fact there was no sign of a bread basket at all, even though we could see them being served to other tables.

This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, except potted shrimps really demand something to spread them on, preferably something warm so that the savoury butter can start to melt into it.

Except this didn’t materialise, and though in the end we reminded the waitress and said the starter was advertised as being with warm bread, what arrived was a regular bread basket.

The bread inside was lovely, soft and nutty, but wasn’t warm. And while it was adequate, it wasn’t what the menu promised.

On the other side of the table, Oliver’s companion had the opposite problem as his tomato and mozzarella salad (£5.95) had arrived with an unexpected addition.

Atop slices of two different types of tomato and creamy mozzarella was an artful pale red dollop.

He tried it uncertainly and wasn’t keen, and though I enjoyed it a little more, could see why he was unsure. It seemed to be tomato mousse but it was fridge cold and a little too sweet. Adding extras is one thing, but they need to actually enhance the dish. That apart, the tomatoes were fresh and fruity, the cheese creamy and all in all it was perfectly acceptable.

For mains we’d both chosen one of the roast dinner options (both £10.95).

My ribeye came cooked through, as requested when given the option, and was accompanied by an obviously homemade Yorkshire pudding and golden roast potatoes.

It was an accomplished roast dinner – tender, favoursome beef, crisp and salty roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pud that soaked up plenty of the gravy.

Opposite, my dining partner had been delighted to find that his roast pork also came with a Yorkshire, and again found the meat well-cooked and the accompaniments all present and correct.

Our vegetables came courtesy of some bowls to share, which were generally fine. The only issue was cauliflower which was just too al dente – a bit hard in fact – topped with what seemed to be melted cheese rather than a cheese sauce. Not great.

Despite being rather full after our hearty mains, we pushed on to dessert and were glad we did, as it proved to be one of the highlights of the meal.

We couldn’t manage the heavier options but decided to share the lemon tart with orange sorbet.

The generous slice of tart was filled with a citrussy custard which was just the right side of tart. My favourite was the sorbet though, an unexpected delight which was perhaps more mandarin or tangerine flavoured than simply orange. It was delicious.

With non-alcoholic drinks, our final bill came to £48.90.

In a town filled with dining options, the Fat Badger is a solid choice, if nothing mindblowing.

The ingredients are all there to elevate it from good to great, if only those few little wrinkles were ironed out.

FACTFILE

Adress: The Fat Badger, Coldbath Road, Harrogate, HG2 0NF.

Opening times: Food served from noon until 9pm every day.

Tel: 01423 505681.

Website: www.thefatbadger.co.uk

STAR RATING

Food ***

Value ****

Atmosphere ***

Service ***

 

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