Retro Bobby is Here to Stay – Bobby Fitzpatrick, West Hampstead

26 May 2019

Growing up, I was often sent packing to my grandparents; date night, life drawing classes, trips to Portugal without me (yes, I’m aware how painfully middle class it sounds). When I was there, I had an acute fascination with the fireplace.

No real flames, smoke or logs. It wasn’t real. But it was shaped like a real one. It hummed a honey orange shade behind wooden (plastic) planks, set within a bronze gold backdrop and slotted into a space below a myriad stone façade. It was powered by electric and it was everything to me – all the rage in the 70’s, so I’m told. My grandparents both died a few years back and their house was inevitably sold, which meant I resigned myself to never seeing it again. And then I walked into Bobby Fitzpatrick on a beautifully balmy day and there it is. The same one! The exact replica!  My nostalgia feelers went into overdrive and I was flooded with fond memories of the past.

But wait, why is there a 70’s fireplace in a bar in West Hampstead in 2019? Because Bobby Fitzpatrick is retro on steroids. Meta retro. Peak retro. It’s snapshot of a bygone era is almost eerie. Not one detail hasn’t been considered – even the hand dryer was a 70’s original for goodness sake. That’s dedication. And we say, if you’re going to emulate a period, do it properly. Never let the immersion drop.

Open since late 2016, Bobby’s has recently introduced a bottomless brunch. Priced at £35, you can expect seven (seven!) well-sized plates of suitably vintage grub, and limitless cocktails – at least for two hours. When we arrived late afternoon on a Saturday, we had a lovely place set up near the window, two rattan chairs, and a place setting with the correct spelling of my name. Bonus point 1. Our waiter, a doppelgänger for Liverpool’s Mo Salah, was calm, friendly and laid-back. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and had great hair. He let us know we’d be sampling a mix of the vegetarian menu and all the fish plates from the carnivore menu to work around our awkward dietary requests. Bonus point 2. He also informed us we could switch throughout the bottomless brunch from any one of the three cocktails. Bonus point 3.

First, we sipped on the Coconut and Pineapple Mimosa: Fontessa prosecco, coconut cream and pineapple – a pleasantly sweet ‘far out man’ concoction. Next, we tried the Hemingway Daiquiri: Havana Club 3yr, maraschino, lime and fresh grapefruit juice – a very drinkable and thus lethal combination. Last up, was the Bloody Derek Olmeca: tequila, Havana Club 3yr, Bobby’s hot mix, lime and tomato juice – a kicking meal in a glass with real punch.

So, the plates. Well, let me warn (delight?) you now – there is so. much. food. By plate 3, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to make it. But halfway through our visit, our waiters switched over, and a smiley brunette woman assured me that by the savoury crepe course, I’d be at the hump day hurdle of dishes and sure to make it to the finish line. She wasn’t wrong. Oozing with cream cheese, spinach, mushrooms and shards of crunchy veg (couldn’t work out what), I was back in the game. What helps is the leisurely pace of it all, the staff asking if you’re ‘ready’ for the next course. Challenge accepted. I won’t take you through all seven dishes because a) you should go and try them yourself and b) I’m on a word count…. So, instead, the highlights. The aforementioned crepe was my winner (filled with bacon for the meat-lover menu). Also of note were the devilled eggs, punctuated with creamy tuna, anchovy and caper innards, and the kedgeree scotch egg, crunchy crumb-brushed casing packed with perfectly textured smoked haddock that hugged the sun orange yolk singing from the centre.

A few other things worth mentioning – Bobby’s also creates large sharing punches, boozy slushies and pizzas. It has a cosy basement bar, filled with psychedelic print wallpaper, hanging plants and dark velvet furniture, plus more memorabilia from bygone times (starburst clock, I’m looking at you). They take bookings of 1 all the way up to 150 people, and everything in between.

This playful paradise should certainly be on your bucket list, and not just because of the commitment to its theme – it really does have very decent food and drink. We know, we know – West Hampstead feels lightyears away. But think about it like this; from central London, it’ll only take you 40 minutes to go back 40 years. See you there, baby.

Elisse Ahmet

…and for more awesome retro joints, check out our top 5 retro gaffs in London feature…

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