Review: The Fat Badger, Richmond

Review: The Fat Badger, Richmond

We tried the special ‘Regenuary’ menu

The Gladwin Brothers have built up quite a following for their restaurants, which showcase local, seasonal ingredients ethically sourced from the land, sea, and even the hedgerows, pairing modern dishes with wine from the family vineyard, Nutbourne in West Sussex.

Richard, Oliver and Gregory hatched their venture in 2012 and the siblings have since opened five restaurants under their Local & Wild approach: The Shed, Rabbit, Sussex, The Fat Badger and The Black Lamb.

For the month of January, the group is offering a ‘Regenuary’ menu. If Veganuary is not for you but you do want to eat more ethically, Regenuary might pique your interest, with the idea being that you only choose ingredients that are farmed in a sustainable way, improving resources rather than depleting them.

We headed to The Fat Badger in Richmond to try the special six-course menu. Each restaurant is designed to reflect the local area. Out front is a small farm shop, with a large interior behind, tastefully decked out with shades of green, teal and natural wood.

We had a warm and charming welcome from the staff, and a glass of Wild, a sparkling wine from Nutbourne, was promptly brought. Made from 100% pinot noir, it was delicious, crisp and with the perfect amount of bubbles.

The menu makes for fascinating reading and it was a real eye-opener to see why certain ingredients had been chosen. You can opt for a global wine pairing to go with it all. We went local instead and enjoyed the herbaceous and fresh Sussex Reserve, a combination of Riesling-style German varietals and pinot noir.

First up were some intriguing little tasters – a mushroom marmite éclair using dehydrated leftover mushrooms that had been pulverised into a powder, and endive with beetroot jam and Stilton.

Next was a course of utterly divine plump mussels in a creamy sauce made with Nutbourne chardonnay and with a fabulous hit of spicy Gladwin chorizo. The rope-grown mussel farming method doesn’t need any input, so no chemicals or added feed are needed.

We then tried a bubbling pot of stuffed leek heart with a Cheddar fondue. The leeks are harvested in a way that enhances the soil structure at the farm. It was a nice dish but rather too rich after the generous portion of mussels.

After a little pause, it was on to a pasta course. Tagliatelle, crab and chilli. The restaurant uses male brown crab, pot-caught from the Dorset/Devon coastline. This was my favourite dish but again it was a large helping. I felt bad having to leave quite a lot, given that reducing food waste is a big part of the ethical eating ethos.

Another pause and our final savoury course was brought – a pretty plate of wild fallow deer, hen of the woods mushrooms, pickled wet walnut emulsion and tarragon crumb. I wasn’t so keen on the crumb but the mushrooms and deer were wonderful. The menu points out that fallow deer can rapidly overpopulate and mindful hunting helps balance their ecosystem.

There’s also a dessert course but we were so full – our lovely waitress offered to box it up so we could take it away with us. While writing this review, I have just enjoyed their spotted dick and custard, made using dried fruit preserved from the summer months and leftover Christmas mincemeat.

The Regenuary menu gave us a fascinating insight into how ethical eating can also be utterly delicious and inventive.

Available until 31 January. £48pp.

The Fat Badger, Hill Rise, Richmond