Team Fatty’s is back in the kitchen and in the house!
, co-owners Kim Dingle and Chef Aude Charles have re-opened after an eight-and-a-half month “creative hiatus” to work on non-restaurant projects.
One bite of the Eagle Rock eatery’s new dishes, such as the Roasted Mushrooms or the Walnut Croquette, however, and it’s clear that Chef Charles’s culinary creativity was sparked as well.
Fatty’s & Co. has long been beloved by green cuisine aficionados for its elegant and sophisticated vegetarian/vegan fare. Chef Charles says that revamping the bill of fare was necessary, however, to “simplify the menu—when we closed, I was making 28 different sauces and going more in the direction of molecular gastronomy, such as vegan foam and sous vide.” (Sous vide is a method of cooking food in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for a long time.)
Citrus, Olive oil, Garlic
When Charles teamed up with Dingle, an internationally acclaimed artist, to re-open the shuttered eatery, the chef decided to keep the menu simple through “an emphasis on citrus, olive oil and garlic”—the flavors of Tuscany and Provence. Charles subtly threads the Mediterranean influence through dishes such as:
• Tri-Colored Lentils with a deeply satisfying, tart-sweet Meyer lemon sauce ($7)
• The positively addictive, mildly spicy Blackened Tempeh, with a piquant lime and sweet red pepper sauce and a side of delicately flavored potato/celery root mash ($10)
• Roasted Mushrooms with chunks of carmelized garlic, lemon and truffle oil ($7)
• The Walnut Croquette’s splash of orange vinaigrette and topping of warmed-yet-crisp fennel slaw ($12).
• The Cavulo Negro ($7), whose red onion confit offsets the inherently rich flavor of the sautéed Tuscan black kale.
• The Far East Rolls ($9) may stray far from the Southern European flavor thumbprint but are also contenders for some of the best I’ve ever had. The filling of spicy ginger seitan, cabbage, and carrot is simple but so satisfying that the mango dipping sauce is almost unnecessary.
Vegetarians Can Say, ‘Cheese, please’
Charles also switched around Fatty’s & Co.’s plant-based profile. The menu is now mainly vegan—with vegetarian options; the reverse was true in the pre-hiatus menu.
Cheese can be added to:
• Gratin de Ratatouille (fire-roasted sweet peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, olives and fines herbes; $10)
• Roasted mushroom-stuffed Spinach Pasta ($16)
• The wildly popular Moussaca (chickpeas, red lentils, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, garlic mashed potatoes and Provencal tomato sauce $14)
The pasta and Moussaca are two of the four “classic” entrees that Charles retained from the previous menu. The macaroni and cheese isn’t there and the fondue had to be dropped,” but Charles assures fans that “We kept the pizzas.”
In fact, Fatty’s is likely to win over a whole new flock of “pie” fans—Charles has also made the pizza crust gluten-free so those with wheat allergies needn’t worry about indulging.
The chef is also working on a gluten-free version of the impossibly scrumptious vegan Fudgey (a two-layer chocolate cake with toasted coconut, $8) but Charles has improved upon perfection by adding a bit of brandy to the chocolate sauce.
Team Fatty’s & Co.
Charles wanted to jettison the complicated and time-consuming recipes of the former menu in order to streamline kitchen prep because, while she’ll remain as executive chef and co-owner with Dingle, the restaurant will be run on a day-to-day basis by members of their long-time, pre-hiatus staff.
Felicia Hessler and Angie Esmali—“talented, eager and two of my best sous chefs”—according to Charles, will be running the kitchen while longtime team members Manuel Zamudio and Derek Potts will be handling duties in the front of the house.
Dingle and Charles will be working “on [the restaurant], not in it,” says Dingle, explaining that besides herself, Potts is the “only member of the staff who can go into the wine cellar and pick out any obscure bottle of wine.”
Beer Now Here
Potts is also the force behind the new emphasis on beer at Fatty’s. The small but thoughtfully chosen selection ranges from SoCal beers such as the Green Flash West Coast IPA to a Bavarian mild lager from Weihenstephan Abbey, which was founded in 1040 A.D. and claims to be the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world.
Ready and Eager
As for the timing of the return, Charles indicates that everything just naturally came together in a kind of kismet. Potts, who had come in to help out with the recent Charlie Puffer at Fatty’s pop-up, reportedly said, “Why don’t we just keep going?”
Meanwhile, Charles “had a feeling” and called Hessler and Esmali, only to find them eager to get back to work. “Felicia said, ‘I’m ready,’” recalls Fatty’s executive chef. “‘When are we cooking?’”
The answer: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.