9:23 AM 13th November 2021
Weekend Dining: The Fat Badger
The Fat Badger, part of the White Hart Hotel, sits majestically at the bottom of Cold Bath Road smack, bang in the middle of the Montpellier Quarter of Harrogate.
Its central location is handy for the discerning shopper looking for a cocktail after a day’s retail therapy or friends meeting up for a glass of vino or a pint from its range of local cask ales. Once settled, a quick peek at the menu is all that is needed to stay for a spot of lunch or dinner.
The light, long and fashionable airy bar dominates the room and creates a buzz as friends congregate to choose an aperitif or selection of wines and beers. There are also booths or, if all you want to do is put the shopping down and rest those weary feet, you can do so by relaxing in a comfortable chair.
Just down the corridor towards the hotel reception desk sits the restaurant offering a little formality. During the day, the large windows let in plenty of daylight and for the evening the subdued illumination adds to the welcoming aura.
The table by the window looked out on to the busy world outside and it was pleasant watching the world go by. There was a lamp sat firmly on the windowsill, reminiscent of those found in old railway carriages which I found alluring. The age of travelling on steam trains was about nicely decorated carriages offering a good service and on both counts the restaurant scored points: nicely decorated, there is enough space to enjoy a romantic dinner, celebrate an occasion or have a business lunch without being overheard and led by Paulina, the waiting team on duty ensured an enjoyable and pleasant dining experience.
I was however, expecting some nuances in the restaurant menu to differentiate it from the bar, both present the same fayre but there is plenty to choose with something to meet different diners’ requirements.
From the starters the cured salmon fillet with beetroot relish & horseradish cream (£7.25) was not only visually appetising with its deep red in the salmon offset by the horseradish cream and the beetroot relish but it also hit the spot with its subtle flavours. All the ingredients ideally placed to create a delicious starter. The horseradish cream was smooth, not too strong perfectly complementing the salmon. The crispy king prawns with Sriracha, lime & spring onion (£8.95) were equally tasty. The batter cooked to perfection, light and airy with the Sriracha adding a little, but not too much, fire. Service was quick too. The wine list offered a number of excellent choices, but I would like to have seen the rosé selection augmented.
The menu caters for those just wanting pizzas probably more of a choice if deciding to sit in the bar area. There are four listed: the traditional Margherita (£11), peperoni, vegan, four cheese (mozzarella, gorgonzola, camembert & Manchego) the last three (£12) to those wanting something a little different such as steaks, there is plenty to choose with the addition of Chateaubriand (£55) a pork Tomahawk (£14) and the Badger Burger (£13.90).
It’s always a good test to try the fish and chips and the beer-battered haddock fillet (£13.90) is certainly a more than satisfactory portion compared with the lukewarm -‘Yorkshire caviar’ - mushy peas. I’m not sure it was the same chef that prepared the batter for the fish as the difference with the crispy prawns was tangible. The tartare sauce had a smooth quality and was in the same sized pot as the mushy peas, but was sufficient. The fillet of seabass (£16.90) cooked to perfection, accompanied by a green vegetable medley that was more than al dente, had a side of new potatoes cooked superbly well but could have done with a little more seasoning, but it did not detract from the meal. The sea bass comes with a choice of beurre butter sauce, sauce vierge or brown shrimp and garlic butter sauce.
The deserts include old favourites from sticky toffee pudding and a cheeseboard to a rather nice lemon and mascarpone tart with passionfruit syrup & crème fraiche (£6.50). It was refreshing with a tartness that did not overpower making it a nice addition to round off the meal. The brandys that followed, presented by Paulina had accompanying hot water to warm the glasses. A nice touch.
The Fat Badger distinguishes itself not only from its a la carte AA rosette menu, but good service and an attractive setting.