I’ve eaten at the Fat Bear before, and on that occasion I had the gumbo which I thoroughly enjoyed. This time however my dining companion and I decided to go for a selection of starters and sides and one of their much raved about burgers. The service as last time was great, attentive but not overly so, with enough time to consider the menu without feeling like they had forgotten you. The dining room is comfortable and doesn’t feel over crowded. Although I suspect when its full it can be noisy.
Now on to the food, we went for Buffalo wings, Buttermilk chicken tenders, Cheese Fries, Pimento Mac & Cheese and their famous Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich. The food arrived after a space of time that gave you comfort that it had been freshly prepared (a pet hate of mine is when the food comes out so quickly it can only have been heated up in a microwave and god knows how long its been lying around!). Anyway, I digress, I have to point out that my dining companion had chosen the chicken sandwich and the rest of the food was down to me and my inability to know what I wanted to eat (that and having eyes way bigger than my stomach).
I started with the Buffalo wings, which are listed on the menu as being “perfectly spiced”. I do think its a great risk saying that something is “perfectly whatever”, because that implies that it will meet your expectations, for me these wings were not perfectly spiced. They were tasty and had that lovely vinegar bite that good Buffalo wings have but the spice level was barely on the scale, even my companion who doesn’t like spicy food agreed he wouldn’t call them spicy at all. The ranch dip which accompanied wasn’t anything special either but would maybe have been welcome had the wings been spicier.
Next up was the Pimento Mac & Cheese, as a Mac & Cheese fanatic I like to think I have a fairly good idea of what makes a good one and I did enjoy this. The addition of pimento rounded out the flavour nicely, could have done with more of the crunchy topping but that’s a tiny thing.
My dining companion was well through his burger by now. It looked fairly easy to eat, there wasn’t the usual struggle with trying to get it in your mouth and when asked he said it was very tasty. I sensed he wasn’t blown away by it, and when I tried the Chicken Tenders which was in the same coating and the dip on the side I think as was in the burger as well, I understood why. They were really tasty and I enjoyed them but there was nothing amazing about them. That said, I would order them again.
The biggest let down was the Cheese Fries, shoestring fries with a drizzle of cheese sauce over the top. The sauce was billed as 3 cheese sauce, I wasn’t convinced but then there wasn’t really enough on there to get a good idea. It was a real shame because cheese fries when done well can be amazing, the ultimate comfort food in my mind. This dish needed way more cheese, and not just on the top it needed it on the layers. It could also have done with better seasoning rather than just salt being thrown at it, something to elevate it. Also served on a plate it goes cold really quickly, perhaps it is better served in something else – not sure what mind you.
All things being equal, I’m not sure I would come back again. The food was a mix of tasty and ordinary. It’s a shame as it was great the last time and there are so few really exciting restaurants in the City. Maybe the menu needs a refresh or the chef needs to be braver. But something needs to happen to shake things up.