Sometimes, a restaurant that may be hidden to most is certainly not hidden to locals and those in the know, and this has certainly been the case with a dining and drinking spot just south of Boston. Indeed, The Fat Cat in Quincy has been such a place, crowded night after night with waits for a table often occurring even on weeknights, but if you mention the Fat Cat to someone from north or west of Boston, the city itself, or certainly a visitor to the Boston area, chances are, you will be met with a blank stare. So why has this been? Well, one reason could be its former location, as the restaurant resided until recently in a less-traveled part of rapidly-redeveloping Quincy Center behind the main section of downtown that you might not find unless you're lost or someone you know is bringing you there. Well, now the Fat Cat has moved to a nearby location that is less "hidden," and while it remains not all that well-known outside of the area, it continues to have an extremely loyal following, and for good reason, as the food, atmosphere, and service are all top notch.
The Fat Cat had formerly been located more or less behind the main drag (Hancock Street) in downtown Quincy, a couple of doors up from an old bar called Sully's and on a side street that had been a bit of a mess of late, with ongoing work connected to the aforementioned revitalization of Quincy Center making it feel like it had been one big construction zone. This plus various one-way roads in the immediate area kept the restaurant more or less hidden away, especially to those who aren't familiar with the downtown section of the city. Now, the old location is gone (as is Sully's), as new development commences at the site, and the Fat Cat is now housed in the old Iron Furnace space on Hancock Street in the heart of the downtown area. The new space is quite a bit bigger than the old (which was charming but very narrow and a bit cramped on the dining side), with a large dining area in the front, an attractive bar in the middle of the space, and a mix of tables and booths in the back. Because of its much larger size and layout, the new location of Fat Cat tends to be a bit quieter than its former location, and it has more of a feel of a family restaurant now than before, when it had more of a gastropub or beer bar vibe.
Even though it feels more like a restaurant now, the Fat Cat remains one part neighborhood dining spot, one part gastropub, and one part beer bar, with the focus on food perhaps making it more of a combination of the first two, though the place does feature some good beers as well. The restaurant's menu is all about comfort food, with highlights including some of the best fried pickles in the Boston area, a "haystack" of onion strings with a rich chipotle dipping sauce, tremendous handcut fries that can be ordered with curry sauce, a perfectly-seasoned 10-ounce burger on a ciabatta roll, linguini alfredo that isn't swimming in cream sauce, blackened chicken pasta that is heavy on the garlic, a plate of fish and chips with house-made tartar sauce, and a marvelous version of macaroni and cheese that has four different cheeses and panko bread crumbs (and can be ordered with bacon or lobster--both highly recommended) and you can also ask for buffalo chicken to be mixed in, which adds a nice kick. The move to the new location has brought some new menu items as well, including steamed mussels that come with grilled bread, wild boar ragu with polenta, pan-roasted duck breast, and more. Cocktails and wine are offered at The Fat Cat, though the focus for at least some does seem to be a bit on beers here, with an ever-changing list of craft beers that include some of the best that New England has to offer. Prices at the restaurant are moderate overall, with most meals costing between $10 and $25.
If you live in Quincy, you may say "The Fat Cat isn't a hidden gem," and there is definitely some truth to that, especially with the move that has brought it more into plain sight; but it remains an unknown spot to folks who live away in other parts of the region--and is one that people might want to go to if they like friendly eateries with a local feel to them. It may not be a household name especially to those who live in Boston or north or west of the city, but The Fat Cat is well worth seeking out.
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