It seems desperately unfair that the independent hospitality businesses which didn’t fold under the pressure of lockdowns and social distancing weirdness have come out the other side just to be hit with the cost-of-living crisis and the working-from-home shift.  

David Mitchell, owner of The Fat Walrus in New Cross, says the last several months have been the toughest to date since he first opened the pub’s doors in 2016. He grafted to finish the pub’s refurbishment in time and before the money ran out, rolling out the banquette leather seating and fitting out much of the interiors himself.

Tough, not least because David - not a chef - found himself manning the kitchen. He was the “better option” over the dregs of a wounded workforce working with a lack of love for what they did.

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However, with nose-to-tail BBQ outfit Whole Beast now calling The Fat Walrus kitchen home, average and inconsistent meals should be a thing of the past.

The Resident: The Fat Walrus pub in New CrossThe Fat Walrus pub in New Cross (Image: London Food & Drink Photography)

Chefs Sam and Alicja Bryant, who set up Peckham’s Coal Rooms and regularly appear at Meatopia, are part of the wave of chefs reinvigorating BBQ-style cooking with the kind of coal grill skills our dads dreamt of having as they tended the backyard BBQ, Lord Supreme of the Blackened Sausage.

With nose-to-tail cuts, plenty of veg and unfussy dishes literally dripping and smeared with punchy flavours, this new wave of BBQing can stay as far as I’m concerned.

For those who like ACME Fire Cult, temper and From The Ashes, the Whole Beast’s dishes will hit the spot.

The Resident: The not-too-dirty burgerThe not-too-dirty burger (Image: London Food & Drink Photography)

As the name suggests, the Whole Beast use as much of the animal as they can, butchering hunks of the stuff in the kitchen themselves and taking meaty experiments from suppliers, such as the cow dried whole which became the patty mix my pal Tom was soon to gush over.

While Tom ate his burger with a knife and fork, the weirdo, I bit into it like a heathen. It had all the elements of a dirty burger – a decent smear of sauce, American cheese and a juicy patty with heft – yet the whole thing was so sublime it was indulgent without being depraved.

New to the menu was the ex-dairy beef salami that came with a dripping and marmite bread and butter pudding and a few pickles for good measure. It was delightful, yet the salty, creamy pudding was so similar to a toastie in spirit, I was confused bite after bite why I wasn’t tasting cheese.  

The Resident: Nose-to-tail BBQ outfit the Whole Beast plates up coal-cooked dishesNose-to-tail BBQ outfit the Whole Beast plates up coal-cooked dishes (Image: London Food and Drink Photography)

The smoked ox cheek and hummus dish was far more substantial than expected and had all the elements of a sandwich of sorts.  Sitting in a pool of hummus jacked up with aged beef fat, the ox cheek was peaty like whisky, while the pickled medley of pink onions, kebab shop pepper and crisp dill gherkins were bright sour bursts amongst umami mouthfuls.

Even though thoroughly enjoyed popping out the dish’s marrow from the bone with a slurpy slide and muddling it in with the hummus underneath, if I stuck to my vegetarianism, I still would have fared just fine.

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The standout dish of the evening were the grilled leeks which arrived as a slightly sweet mass, grilled soft but still holding shape. They covered a doughy disc of flatbread and came doused in a thick cream of BBQ sauce, sharpened out with a hit of miso and sprinkled with peanut shavings and chilli rayu for a gentle heat and crunch.

It would be hard not to like The Whole Beast’s food. It is hearty and comforting and will carry you home in a sated stupor. It would also be hard to not like The Fat Walrus. Smart enough yet a little worn in, it’s a good neighbourhood boozer that deserves to be busy. So just go.