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