The Fat Butcher at The Grafton, NW5

The human rights act should, of course, be amended to include the provision of a solid local pub to every citizen of this nation. Somewhere between the right to assembly and the bit about free elections there must be some space in a margin to cram it in. And fortunately when I moved to Kentish Town last year I found the recently refurbished Grafton pub. Beer in jugs, piano sessions on a Sunday, and at the time fantastic burgers supplied by residents Lucky Chip, what more could you want? I was sad to see Lucky Chip depart for fresh pastures but as they say man can not live by burgers alone.

Murmurings of a “fat butcher” piqued my interest and I first met the new resident chef / FOH team during the summer. Will, the chef, was manning a BBQ outside with succulent joints of pork to soak up a beer-fuelled afternoon. Mentions of experience at St. John and the Canton Arms, along with butchering whole animals on-site, added to the anticipation. So we ventured out on a very hung over Saturday afternoon to see how they’ve settled in.

Fried artichokes and anchovy sauce

The menu is to-the-point with short sharp descriptions focusing on quality ingredients. Naturally, given the name, there are always interesting cuts and varieties of meat along with some innovative sides. ¬†We couldn’t resist some artichokes to get going, served with anchovy sauce. A plate of neatly prepared artichokes arrived, with a side of anchovy sauce and wedge of lemon. The artichokes had just the right bite and were lifted with the punchy salty sauce and sharp lemon. Simple, confident and delicious.

Rabbit Casear salad Brown crab and toast

I opted for a starter sized rabbit caesar salad. Again classic and simple but with a twist by using rabbit, a much underused meat in this country. It came as a generous portion of romaine lettuce with a light sauce and plenty of meat. The meat was beautifully tender (leg meat?), no mean feat with what can be a dry animal. Possibly a touch heavy on the salty parmesan but otherwise excellent. Then I followed with crab on toast, a mix of brown meat in a sauce with 2 slices of good toasted bread. Plenty of crab flavour and the simple addition of lemon and chives to lift it. I would have prepared a slightly firmer texture personally, more pate like, but it still had good depth.

Juicy chicken and coleslaw Onglet and chips

The other dishes at the table were the generous 1/2 chicken with spicy coleslaw. Tender juicy chicken, crisp skin and a heavy kick of chilli in the coleslaw gave what could have been a boring dish an interesting almost Southern States twist. And the meat stood out and was allowed to shine. Onglet steak and chips came as a good hunk of meat and carbs. Excellent crisp classic chips. The steak was rare although perhaps a tiny bit tough initially since it was thick. Nothing a good steak knife couldn’t handle, and being onglet there was bags of beefy flavour.

So, on perspective, a very enjoyable meal. Undeniably simple combinations but with some interesting twists and most importantly superb execution. The prices are very keen, I’d go so far as to say cheap for the portions and quality. It fits the atmosphere and ethos of the pub perfectly and I’ll look forward to trying more of what they have to offer.

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