“It’s been a complete career change,” says Waverly local Aaron Pearce of his first hospitality venture Fat Rupert’s, which has moved into the space that used to house Bondi’s Flying Squirrel. “I resigned from my marketing job in April and looked around for three months…[and] the opportunity presented itself – the lease was up for sale and I always wanted to own a small tapas bar.”
Since picking up the keys, Pearce has been keen to keep up the momentum, opening Fat Rupert’s a week later in early July and adding a clutch of his own influences and touches along the way. The rosily lit, brick-fronted dining space houses elegant arch windows and funky trinkets like street signs and classic children’s books.
Chefs Fiat Nasongkhla (who stayed on when Pearce took over) and Eli Challenger create invigorating sharing plates like chilli saganaki prawns with haloumi and fries with sweet tomato relish. ‘The Flying Squirrel’ (ravioli filled with prawn and dory) pays homage to the space’s former self, as do the mini ‘Yeezy’ burgers with Coorong Angus beef, Swiss cheese and chipotle.
“The menu will change on a monthly basis. Our focus is simple, seasonal and satisfying,” says Pearce. “When we took the old favourites from the Flying Squirrel off the menu, we had locals telling us we had to put them back on.”
Specials like pink cauliflower with mint and almonds and slow-cooked lamb with fennel and dill on sourdough toasts are scribbled on mirrors, while a boutique drinks list included Berto’s cocktails served in jars, all playfully designed by Alberto Goodman, with names like ‘Wink Wink’ and ‘Shiver Me Timbers’.
And the name? It’s inspired by Pearce’s cocker spaniel: “In the first six weeks, we were overfeeding Rupert and he got quite fat. He’ll be down here more regularly when he behaves,” he says.