OF THE MANY restaurant success stories that have played out in Portland, few are as surprising as restaurateur Micah Camden’s assembly of a minor culinary empire at NE Killingsworth Street and 30th Avenue. First Beast, then Yakuza Lounge, then DOC—the intersection is home to an urban buffet of inventive cuisine. And now Camden has unveiled another feat of gastronomic creativity: Fats.
An emphatically British gastropub, the appeal of Fats unfolds from the street: walls of glass-paned accordion doors invite passersby to peer into the intimate corner space replete with wainscoting, glowing Edison bulbs, and a long wall lined with several 1930s telephones. “I let the space dictate what it would be,” Camden says. “We gutted it out, and it screamed ‘pub’ to me.”
Fats’ menu also cleaves to British tradition, from chicken tikka masala to bangers and mash. But instead of the bland, coma-inducing fare common to such pubs, Fats offers flavors the Brits might do well to import. The steak Wellington is a belly-warming highlight—a hunk of hanger steak resting on a flaky mushroom pastry, doused with a rich demi-glace—while the kedgeree offers a bright counterpoint of prawns, seared scallops, and a soft-boiled egg on a bed of curried basmati rice.
Beer lovers will be pleased with the menu of international brews (12 on tap, 30 bottled), including rare ciders and sours. To complement this list, Camden decided to try his hand at the ultimate drinking food: poutine. Fats’ version features a pile of crispy fries bathed in gravy, mixed with bits of bacon, pickled mushrooms, chopped dates, and goat cheese, and topped with a poached egg. It may not help you shed your winter weight, but the dish certainly marks Fats’ eminence within this particular culinary domain.