International Restaurant Review: The Fat Radish
On a quiet street, in a pokey part of Manhattan’s lesser-feted Lower East Side, is a diminutive restaurant that is proving to be very big news. Part British gastro-pub, part vegetarian haven, The Fat Radish has been making waves as much for its delectable dishes and inventive pairings as for its relaxed ambience and hip interior.
Opened in 2010 by Ben Towill and Phil Winser of catering firm Silkstone, The Fat Radish takes as its culinary inspiration London’s Covent Garden Market, working with seasonal produce to create an arresting array of beautifully simple and healthy dishes. Refusing to categorise their cuisine, The Fat Radish boys frequently add dishes to their brunch, lunch and dinner menus according to their own personal tastes which, thankfully, appear to be in line with those of their ever-growing clientele. From monkfish curry to beetroot and swiss chard crumble, sweet pea summer pie to that simple American pleasure, the cheeseburger, each dish is executed with a lightness of touch and deference to flavour that are so often overlooked by new ventures desperate for a few words of praise. Signature dishes, such as a bowl of pickled radishes that signals the start of every new meal, have also gone some way to maintaining The Fat Radish’s popularity amongst New York’s über-cool set, although, as one critic states, “The super-popular LES [Lower East Side] newcomer is like someone who doesn’t know how cool they are.”
Indeed co-founders Phil Winser and Ben Towill could not appear less fazed by their newfound fame. Rakishly handsome, a little bashful and with a hefty dose of British public-school charm they are just as likely to be found serving customers at the coffee bar as they are gracing the pages of The New York Times. For all their self-deprecation however, they are not to be underestimated in the kitchen. Towill was initiated into the culinary world by global phenomenon Raymond Blanc whose Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons proved a gruelling but valuable training ground. He then went on to work with celebrity chef Rick Stein at his Cornwall institution and later was handpicked by Gordon Ramsay to head up his latest venture and accompany him on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Winser meanwhile garnered his experience in the British catering industry – he had been training since the age of 14 with the likes of Admirable Crichton Events, Party Ingredients and the British Royal Palace – to become head of events and design at Silkstone. The combination of wit and charm and their complementary skills has seen The Fat Radish founders attract a team of like-minded, energetic and affable young groovers who all add to the tangible charm of the joint. You can’t help but want to be in their gang, or at the very least see them go on to even greater things. As someone once said though – if they can make it there, they’ll make it anywhere.
INFO: The Fat Radish, 17 Orchard Street, New York City, New York 10002, firstname.lastname@example.org, thefatradishnyc.com.