Fat Maggi’s at The Ribs of Beef

Like a toddler’s picture book or a teenager’s much abused web browser Norwich is becoming overrun with pop ups. As someone with commitment issues I can definitely see the appeal but their growth in popularity is both a great opportunity for exciting chefs to strike out on their own and an enticing asset of the City’s culinary landscape. The Ribs of Beef has recently welcomed a new venture from Norwich market’s Jakey Le Bakey (they do French food there dontchaknow!): Fat Maggi’s is a “long term pop up” that aims to bring quality comfort food to the little pub on Fye Bridge Street.

Atmosphere A beautiful smell of cooking rolls luxuriously down the steps from the kitchen to stretch its olfactory tendrils through the cosy bar room. As we enjoy a drink the customers come floating in the front door, following their noses like peckish Looney Tunes characters made flesh. The building is a curiously winding, higgledy piggledy affair; perched high above the river it boasts more stairs than seem strictly necessary but which effuses character from every Escher inspired wood panelled crevice.

Le Main Event Chatting with Monsieur Le Bakey (Jakey to his friends I assume) before we ate, his passion for food and his love for his craſt were obvious. He talked about working in France to develop his skills and meeting his partner there who now works alongside him. They started out with the stall on the marketplace and have grown from there through catering contracts to this new pop up that started serving last November. Working out of The Ribs’ tiny galley kitchen presents

some interesting challenges but the lack of storage space ensures the food served will always be fresh. It’s minimal living that would make Marie Kondo weep with pleasure and holding my breaded chicken burger certainly sparked joy. The meals are split nicely between “Big Eats” and delicate smaller plates to suit most appetites but all are centred on a desire to make quality comfort food. The main focus for the big eats are burgers that aim to compete with the glut of big chain burger joints found across the City. It’s their favourite comfort food and in making what they love, not what they think other people might love, they aim to build their long term pop up into a mecca for burger fans. I never say no to a burger and The Chicken and gravy burger special sounded right up my street. Excellent quality chicken breaded with peppery breadcrumbs sat as an enticing golden brown morsel on my plate, it was crisp and soſt in all the right places. As with all well filled burgers, I lost my dignity in the mess I made tackling it and police soon arrived to investigate the


murder on my plate. I was remorseless, it was worth it. The wholemeal seeded bun was unusual when most places are still obsessed with overly sweet brioche buns but it was much preferred and brought a more substantial feeling. I enjoyed the burger but was less taken with the skinny cut French fries, still the addition of gravy will always win me over. With this we had a couple of smaller plates; rarebit that was moreishly shot through with the smokiness of paprika and the heat of English mustard and the crunchy and gooey Mac and cheese bites all went down nicely.

Pud The puddings were both excellent – the brownie was soſt and gooey as it should be and lavishly covered with a rich caramel sauce. An impromptu spoon duel with my partner across the table was all that could save my half of this dessert. Further cutlery related injuries were a small price to pay to fend her off from the biscoff cheesecake. The biscuit spread gummed my mouth shut in a smile of pure contentment.

Conclusion I’m not sure I’d ever trust someone who didn’t like a burger. I’d be polite but there’d always be the chilling suspicion that something wasn’t quite right about them. For the rest of us normies you can’t go far wrong giving Fat Maggi’s a visit where you’ll find good food at very fair prices. I’m told they also knock up a mean Sunday lunch.

Words James McDonald


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