It's a mighty complicated journey out to this retro American diner, but it is worth going that extra mile for a place that serves up the real thing.
Located on a dead-end in East India Quay, Fatboys Diner resembles the ships that are moored on the water beside it; a beached barge of aluminium Americana. Inside, the decor hints at those truck stop cafés that take the place of Little Chef’s on the other side of the Atlantic, and although it's small, you won’t notice one bit.
A shiny metal bar runs the length of the cabin with stools fixed up against it, and at one end there are a handful of booths for a more enclosed intimacy. The walls are covered with vintage tat that soothes those rockin’ blues, whilst frames are filled with rockabilly rebels, varsity memorabilia and of course the fluorescent Pepsi Cola sign.
It calls itself a diner, and that is truly what it is. There is no alcohol and closing time is five pm, so forget images of American Graffiti and late night roller-skating waitresses. The lights are bright and although the jukeboxes on the tables don’t take your money, there is an attempt at a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. Lunch times are busy, and with the griddle right in front of the bar it’s all action, but unfortunately the customers rarely fit the décor as modernity has robbed us of the Teddy Boys, greasers and preps who might have spruced things up a little bit.
The menu is an entertaining read for those that want to get up to speed with the authentic lingo. J-Crew guys will be deciding whether to spread red or yellow paint on their burgers, whilst sprinkling fries with the Jones Boys. Doesn't make sense? It will. Prices are low, portions are generous and the burgers fine. The selection includes the double patty with cheese, bacon, bbq sauce and chilli, known as the Hillbilly, along with more reserved nibbles like the simple Plus One cheeseburger.
There are also grandstand hot dogs, deli sandwiches and fries drenched in all manner of toppings to knock that calorie count upwards. Most meals will be under £7.00.
Standard beverages fill the racks of Fatboy’s fridge but along with the soft drinks, juices and coffee there is always the matter of shakes and floats. Dump ice cream in with coke, cream soda or lemonade for a fizzy float or go all the way with a thick ice cream shake.
The Last Word
Caught somewhere between a gimmick and the real thing, you’ll love it once but can you love it again? With location and opening times taken into account, it might just come down to your own personal dedication to keeping the spirit of Buddy Holly alive.