In Bondi, where you can enjoy almost any taste on the planet these days, there is much to be said for the 'Modern Traditional' mantra that Fat Rupertås lives by.
Named after a doting dog with a big love of life and everybody, Fat Rupert’s is the first venture for hospitality newcomer, Aaron Pearce, who in many ways represents the archetypal Australian youngster. He travelled far and wide in his twenties but soon missed his Australia, returning to work in a white collar job (in music marketing and advertising) for five years. But rather than hanging around to progress through the corporate ranks, he soon decided that it was time to open his bar and restaurant – something he’d always wanted to do.
“The business was simply created to provide great quality food and drinks, delivered by people that fast become like family to you, in an environment you never want to leave,” he explained.
Fat Rupert’s opened in July 2013 on iconic Bondi Road, at the start of what is classed as Bondi Beach, according to the sign created on the outside wall of the venue. But Aaron recognises that it would not have been possible if he hadn’t met Head Chef, Eli Challenger, early on in the planning stages. Eli has cooked since the age of 14 and comes with great credentials from Sydney and North America, and heaps of great tattoos.
Originally from Canada, Eli moved to Australia in his early twenties. His love of American deli and diner food is clear, heavily influencing the menu with his passion for BBQ and smoking, and an accent on New Orleans-style dishes. Expect to see a range of classic American sandwiches, bagels, and burgers, small plates of beets and cauliflower, and main dishes of Berkshire pork belly, beef, fried chicken, and Suffolk lamb.
The signature Pepe Saya buttermilk fried chicken, which is served with potato puree, coleslaw and honey butter, includes a tablespoon of Fat Rupert’s spice that Eli has prepared especially and will keep its secret to his grave. Haven’t we heard that somewhere else with fried chicken?
An important feature of the kitchen is the locally-sourced produce which includes Pepe Saya dairy products, Origin meats from NSW, fruit and vegetables from Food Orbit, Lomondo olive oil from Mudgee, and a range of cheeses sourced from NSW, South Australia and Victoria.
The food is admirably supplemented by a bar menu that changes regularly and includes a vast domestic and international wine selection, craft beers from around Australia and a cocktail list looked after by Sean Duncan that has something for everyone.
Aaron and his team won’t be moving anytime soon, as they seem to be in their element in the casual and intimate surrounds of their Bondi bar. He said, “Sydney is the best city in the world; in not many big cities can you live by the beach and drive to the city centre in 15 minutes. On our doorstep we have amazing food and beverage offerings, a multi-cultural society, heaps of art, beaches, parks, great shopping and an amazing climate. Sydney is what you make of it, and we love it.”