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London’s Little Bay – A Meal To Remember

Published 23 February 2010

Call it a restaurant reverie. Inside feels like another world, the interior designed with the imagination of a child and the menu with the culinary skills of a chef who has both our earnings and yearnings in mind.

When the doors of Kilburn’s Little Bay restaurant open, it’s as if the flaps of a circus tent have been pulled back. Tree lights and candle lights flicker. Couples carry on in wooden alcoves reached by stairs like treehouses. Servers rush with smiling faces. Diners talk and glasses clink. Filled with bright fabric and hand-carved curls of wood, Little Bay is as much a feast for the eyes as for the taste buds.

Little Bay strives to provide an unforgettable atmosphere for those who’ve booked reservations far enough in advance to get a table. Diners come from far outside the northwest area to eat here, though there are three other London locations, and it’s not just because of the experience.

The food, hailed ‘European bistro on a budget,’ doesn’t leave a lot to desire. The Choux de Crab, one of several hard to resist starters for regulars, comes in a delicately formed choux bun and glazed in a dark ginger-chilli hollandaise. It disappeared in seconds. The chicken and avocado salad starter was fresh, had a citrus air and there was no skimping on either of the above ingredients.

A little chalkboard by the main kitchen offers almost a dozen specials but many who frequent Little Bay don’t easily stray from their selection of mains, which range from dishes of mussels and duck to cod and salmon. Some, however, begrudge the ‘seasonal’ vegetables never changing from a standard but flavoursome blend of potatoes, parsnips and carrots.

The aubergine strudel, a filo pastry stuffed with roast aubergine and complemented by a heavy helping of ricotta cheese, was nicely crisped on the outside and full of flavour inside. The char-grilled lamb steak, featuring green peppercorn sauce and glazed vegetables, arrived cooked as asked, tender and tasty. All went down well with a lovely house red.

Dessert was absolutely delicious. The apple cake was covered in a smooth, light custard with a side of ice cream. The crust was just right, as were the baked apples inside. The profiteroles, banana cream and hot sauce (in the same carefully crafted crust of the Choux de Crab) was a lovely balance of thick chocolate, pastry and the sweet banana cream. Both dishes looked like they could have sold for far more than the £2.95 we paid. And had we been there before 7 p.m., each would’ve gone for a mere £2.25.

In fact, all Little Bay dishes are cheaper between noon and 7 p.m., with starters going for £2.25 and mains running for £5.25. It’s hard to believe food this good can cost so little since it’s easy to pay far more for terrible food in London. On top of all that, a charismatic and quick staff are at your service.

Written by Natalie Appleton
Photos from Flickr users anniemole and natsuki_and_shinji

Food: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: 5/5
Service: 4/5

Address: 228 Belsize Road, London, NW6 4BT
(There are also locations in Farringdon and Croydon. See website for details).
Telephone bookings: 0207 372 4699
Website: www.littlebay.co.uk

  • jackya

    I have been to Little Bay (Kilburn) numerous times and as time went on the quality of food and customer service has decreased. I was introduced to Little Bay by a friend and fell in love straight away. The first 5 times I visited Little Bay the food was fantastic. However, I have recently vowed that I will never return to Little Bay. Parson Pastry which is on the starter menu, seems to be almost always undercooked and when pointed out to the manager he did not respond on many occasions (I say many occasions as I kept going back for more hoping they would increase their standard of food) , the manger didn’t even apologise, replace my uncooked pastry or take it off my bill. The Chargrilled Lamb steak is again undercooked ( I like mine well done!!). On one occasion the food took 1 hour to arrive and when I enquired about my order, the waitress replied, “It’s not my fault, don’t speak to me about it” and walked off.
    When I spoke to the manager about his employees behaviour towards customers, he then turned on me shouting “That I expect too much, they have to wait for the food to be cooked etc etc” I was amazed by this. I have never been to a restaurant where management shout at customers for enquiring about their order and complaining about staff members who are clearly rude and incompetent. I would have recommended this restaurant to the whole world prior to management shouting at me and undercooked food but now it’s a big NO NO as my bad experience was not based on one occasion but manifold experiences at the Bay.<<<< This was 6 months ago, I took the liberty of visiting Little Bay yesterday (7/8/12) and thought let's see of any changes. Nothing had changed. I asked for a table of 3, my partner and I were eating a 2 course meal each and my friend accompanied us. We were told by management that my friend is not allowed to sit with us unless she is ordering as she will be taking up his 'seat' (even though they weren't busy and considering I have probably spent hundreds of pounds in this restaurant due to the amount of times I used to visit it before). I thought this was ridiculous, I kept quiet ordered for my friend, ate and left. Yesterday really was the last day I will ever visit Little Bay. Never again will I allow my self to be subjected to terrible customer service and undercooked filo pastry!!!!!