Whilst the refurbishment took place through the long drawn out winter months, the team at Little Bay made sure to keep tantalising people with morsels of information about their warming exotic food menu, enticing cocktails and ultra modern decor. When they finally opened in April 2016 people were intrigued and couldn’t wait to sample Little Bay’s alluring Eastern delights as presented to us through social media.
“Cumin, cardamon and clove.”
I eventually made it down there one Thursday evening in mid-May and the place was buzzing: groups of friends, individuals, couples – of all ages. I think we may have even been the second or even third sitting that evening!
Dominating the centre of the restaurant is the heart of Little Bay – its circular bar. The bar staff shimmering between the glinting glassware and beaten copper water jugs, mixing enticing cocktails. Guests are encouraged to sit at the bar on plush stone coloured velvet bar stools studded with metal rings hanging off the backs whilst waiting for their tables to be set. Masala Mules being everyone’s cocktail of choice.
The menu is varied but not extensive; 14 starters and 16 main dishes – a good balance of chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian options, as well as the ubiquitous rice dishes, naans and sides.
My menu choices were as follows:
Starter – Chicken 65 (Chilli Chicken)
Marinated pieces of chicken breast, stir fried and tossed in spring onions, chillies and coriander. This was a very generous starter. Succulent chicken pieces, fresh zingy ginger coming through the heat of the chillies. Like popcorn chicken – but grown up; delicious. With some rice or a naan this could have been a very decent lunch. I would have liked to have been encouraged by the waiter to have perhaps ordered some raita to go with, not because it needed to be tempered but just as another texture/sensation on the tongue; hot chicken pieces, fridge cold raita.
Main – Keema Mattar
On the menu there is a “Little Bay recommends” next to this dish and I was not disappointed. Spiced, minced lamb cooked in a tomato and spice infused sauce, freshened up with vibrant green peas. Rich and full of body, this dish was perfectly accompanied by a plain naan and steamed basmati rice. Any other flavours would have conflicted with the musty-heavy scent of cumin, cardamom and clove.
We decided to forgo dessert as I didn’t really want chocolate cake, carrot cake or pecan pie after a delicious Indian meal. What happened to the Indian desserts normally served in Indian restaurants? Mango kulfi? Mango Lassi? Kheer (milky rice pudding)?
Gibraltar desperately needed a proper Indian Restaurant in the leisure areas. Since Masai Grill, Viceroy and then Laziz shut down, we’ve had to succumb to the Indian takeaway. Little Bay, which I can’t help but feel, should be called, The Bay Leaf, is a high end Indian Restaurant with high quality food. A restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place next to London’s The Cinnamon Club or The Red Fort. Its Directors have worked hard to create an image of comfortable decadence. Their dynamic team of managers, exciting bar staff and committed waiters making the place buzz with youthful exuberance.
There is an Indian tapas menu which has many dishes from the a la carte menu so that guests may discover the menu, however, I would like to see more “Little Bay recommends” next to different dishes to encourage diners to choose something delicious but unfamiliar. All tables should be offered a copper pot of poppadums and accompanying chutney whilst diners peruse the menu – we weren’t.
I, for one, can’t wait to return. Promises of exotic spice and Eastern delights did not disappoint. Next time though, I’d make sure it was in a large group so that I could try lots of different dishes! And I’d make sure that I tried one of those Masala bad boys!