On a road that has started to morph into the shape of a bicep - thanks to the aggressive mushrooming of gyms along its stretch - anything with the name FAT in it is a sweet welcome. It’s not just the happy yellow logo that gets us when we drive by the joint - its also the quiet, non-self-congratulatory name, that seems to celebrate both community and love of food.
With its no-nonsense canopy, sprawling space, large glass windows, and generous entrance, Fat Jar feels like it could be on the sort of sun-kissed Santa Monica boulevard that makes roller bladers salivate. These are the trappings that hint at a place that squeezes its own pulpy juice and churns its own vanilla beans for no-preservative yogurt. (Reader, it is.) Even though this is only day 11 of the Jar’s life, we’re already visualising its clientele - dedicated mothers strolling in, trilingual kids and chemical-free crayons in hand.
At once, we love the botanical framed print on the wall; unfinish-finished black-and-white wall tiles; and the fact that the space is actually both a café and a market, as it claims. A friendly gentleman who turns out to be the humble owner and our gracious server, welcomes us with a voice that maintains a steady professorial tone all afternoon. He has the vibe of a teacher who actually has his doors open at office hours, and did not give you homework last Friday because you were going to the seaside after ages.
At the lunch counter, ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘fresh’ seem to be constants, while the offerings, we learn, change daily. We spot too many favorites in one sweep of the eye, including some just-out-of the-oven flatbreads, a bubbling shakshuka, fish and chips and a handful of delightful, simple salads. We want it all, but edit with his help.
As our order is prepared, we look through the market part of Fat Jar, which the host explains is both for customers to shop from, and for chefs on the job to pick from. We take note of the glass jars and the clean, simple labels that spell out the Jar’s recipes, which claim to be committed to an affordable free-range, preservative-free way of life. This will certainly be our new go-to-place for egg free mayo, spicy mustard, hummus and babaganoush – all cost between two and three hundred rupees.
We enjoy a well-paced meal where everything comes out piping hot and carefully, but not overly, presented. Margherita pizza which we were promised would be ‘first class,’ is indeed, pretty flawless for café pizza– we like everything about it, especially the brave-but-thin crust. Veggie shepherd’s pie is hearty, like we’d expect, and not at all cheesy. The salad – a simple toss of potatoes, fresh beans, and finely sliced onions – is the perfect accompaniment to the pie, a dish that makes obvious the freshness and purity of its ingredients. All this and more – particularly the just right coffees we end with – have us feeling easy, breezy, lucky and uncomplicated.
So even though there is something decidedly a-local about the joint, since it calls itself a Mediterranean restaurant – rather than say, an American Bistro – and the warmth and good quality is palpable from afar, we forgive our only criticism, that Fat Jar could well be a great place for lunch anywhere in the refined, well-developed recreational streets of the west. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’ll be back, many, many times, especially if they let us pick off the kids menu too.
Getting there: A-7 Kailash Colony. A meal for two (with another meal in the bag) costs around Rs. 2,300 for two.
Accessibility: Difficult for wheelchairs.
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