December 12th, 2010
My friend Oli has been over to London, from Barcelona, visiting friends before Christmas. It’s becoming a regular event that we go to Little Bay in Farringdon, for a large group lunch. There are several reasons for this, the food is very good, it’s great value and the staff are friendly. I’d describe the style as French bistro, the menu stays the same, day and night (aside from the specials), but the courses are considerably cheaper before 7pm.
I’ve been going to Little Bay for over 10 years, first to the branch in Kilburn, which has an amazing cavernous basement, seemingly made up of all the cellars in the street and for the last 8 years, Farringdon, which has a rococo kitsch style. I prefer the upstairs in Farringdon, that’s the rococo bit, the downstairs has a completely different style and reminds me of a night club. The first time I went there, I went to the loo downstairs and felt like I’d walked into a monastery, when I saw a long table seating 30 catholic priests – obviously they were all out for dinner, but it was a surreal moment. This Sunday, there were 21 of us and we did end up downstairs, however, Little Bay was very busy and being in a big group it didn’t seem to matter.
I ordered pig’s cheeks, from the normal starters menu, I’ve had them many times here and encouraged everyone to try them. The cheeks themselves have been braised for a long time and are mouth wateringly tender. They come seated on a mound of garlic mash surrounded by a drizzle of gravy and with a little slice of crispy bacon on top. I could have eaten 5 portions!
I chose ribeye steak, medium rare, from the specials menu. The steak comes with home cut chips, cooked in goose fat and salad. The chips are a Little Bay speciality and always taste excellent. Rib eye is often on the menu too, I’ve had it before and it’s always good. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal here.
I had cheese and biscuits instead of desert – I’m not a big fan of pudding, unless it’s a sharp tart.
This was a busy Sunday, two weekends before Christmas. The staff managed to be quite attentive and all our food seemed to come promptly. We drank copious quantities of red and white wine (a few of us diners have hollow legs too), the house wine is quite drinkable. At least a quarter of us had coffees and or brandy and the bill came to just under £30 each. Little Bay is at, 171 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AL.