I've been wanting to review this place since the first time I went there. Nestled in a somewhat industrial neighborhood of Quincy, MA, I want to call this place a "hidden gem", but going during lunch or dinner times, the struggle to find a seat would say otherwise. From the outside, it looks like your typical pub/restaurant. Despite the unique sign, the inside is very downplayed, and not exactly noteworthy. That's where the food/service come in. Both times i've been, I've always chosen to sit at the bar, but I will say that the service was great, and they were very accommodating: this time around, during casual conversation I mentioned "I haven't had my coffee today..." and the bartendress put on a fresh pot and brought me a mug. It's the little things.
I had been here once before, and gotten the Mac and Cheese, (oh... we'll get to that...) so I wanted to try things I hadn't yet... everything sounded so good. I started with an order of hand-cut fries, which in itself was a struggle... they have a handful of seasoning and dip choices (curry, cajun, etc). I went with garlic parmesan. Honestly, the garlic and parmesan didn't add anything for me, but the fries were so damn good, they didn't take anything away either. So good, I always carry a few in my pocket nowadays in case I need a "toothpick" with flavor.
After asking for a recommendation, I heard the wings were good. This is where I begin to kick myself. Even for a fat slob, I'm pretty picky. I do like hot wings, but I like flavor too, so I'm not into any of those "wing challenges" where you need a gas mask and to dip your eyes in milk every 5 seconds just to eat them. The waitress offered to bring me half and half (5 "hot" wings and 5 "XXX Hot" wings). The XXX hot is made with a spicy vodka and pickled pepper base (if I remember correctly... she showed me the jar on the shelf, looking like a mad scientist's experiment) so I got a little intimidated. But you know, I don't mind the occasional wing that evokes tears and a runny nose... it's cleansing.
The darker brown wings on the left are the XXX Hot, and the orangey ones on the right are the "hot" wings. I wish I had gotten all XXX Hot. There was nothing wrong with the hot wings, but they were your typical wing sauce and didn't stand out. EXCEPT, these wings in general were great. One thing I absolutely hate is when you get wings and it's like biting into your grandma's arm flab. These wings, regardless of sauce, were crispy on the outside, to me: perfection. The XXX sauce had a good amount of heat, so I sipped my drink after each wing, but they were bursting with flavor and truly unique. They almost tasted as if they had a rub as well as a sauce. I also appreciated that these wings were obviously sauced, but not swimming in it, so I didn't feel like I needed a bath after.
Everything I've had at The Fat Cat has not only been "good" it's been special in it's own way. I'm no sucker, so after we finished our food and had a few more drinks at the bar, I put in a to-go order before we left. I mean, I'm going to need to eat again eventually, I might as well make sure it's damn good food! I got their "Philly" (which is essentially a Steak & Cheese, but you can get it with chicken or something else instead, I forget). I went traditional, sans mushrooms because well, mushrooms are gross. With the Cheesesteak, they threw in a buttload of fries (I declined any seasonings or dips). I forgot to get a picture of this when I heated it up several hours later for dinner. But take my word for it. Good meat, good bread, good flavor. Even reheated several hours later. (If you're going to do this, wrap the sub in foil, put on a pan with the fries and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15mins) it's still going to be better than any of the sub shops near you, I guarantee it.
I think this is the ultimate compliment you can give any restaurant: if their food is as good reheated the next day, you've struck gold. In the above picture, you see The Fat Cat's signature Macaroni and Cheese. A day later, and microwaved, it is still creamy and gooey and mouthwatering. I don't care how good your mama is at cooking, she can't touch this mac. I personally make a damn delicious homemade mac, spending years perfecting the creamy sauce. Even I can't deny this is different. The key to a good mac cheese sauce is variety. You have to combine cheeses. The Fat Cat uses at least 3 or 4, one of which is blue cheese. This adds a tanginess to the flavor unparalleled. They also have tomatoes in the recipe, which I didn't think I'd like, but you know what, I did... so it's basically healthy with the vegetables added. It's a creamy, gooey, cheesy salad! Oh and I almost forgot, you can get the mac and cheese with meats, such as chicken or HOT DOGS. Now I didn't do this myself, but I thought that was a pretty cool nostalgia for a place with some high end food, playing to the kid in us all.
I also can't go without mentioning the portion sizes. The mac in that picture is only HALF of the order! Supposing I can exercise a small amount of willpower, the other half will come to work with me tomorrow. I will weep when it's all gone.
I'm not huge into seafood, but I did try some mussels that my friend ordered (look at that massive bowl for $10 bucks!). She chose the mussels in the Fat Cat tomato sauce (they have another sauce, but I forget what it is... clearly I do my research). They were pretty good if you like that sort of thing. I won't condescend to you folks as if I eat enough mussels to critique these vs others I've had (I go years in between mussels), but good flavor and I kept 'em down... so thumbs up? Also, barely pictured, Fat Cat "Haystacks" which are their onion strings, which are also divine.
Review by Dave James, who lives in Cambridge, MA and possibly died of heart disease immediately after writing this....
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