Keen to support my local businesses and plant money back into my community, I decided that when it comes to dining out, I should try and swap the big name chains, for smaller independent venues. After all, we are in the middle of a recession (you’ve probably noticed) and it’s sad to see so many nice bars, cafes and restaurants, lose out to the bigger food chains who can afford to draw in their customers via cheap deals, 2-4-1 meals, customer loyalty cards, blah blah blah.
Not that I can preach just yet, I am certainly guilty of being one of those customers who is pulled in by the ‘SuperSize/Free-Fries/Try-Before-You-Buy’ ridiculous offers. My office printer has become my voucher dispenser. But then I realised, I didn’t move to London – to the capital city – to rock up at Pizza Express every week and feast on yet another Quattro Formaggi just because it only cost £1 when ordered alongside my mates Pizza.
Upon this revelation, I decided to create this new category – ‘Gallivanting’ – in which I will be reviewing/ranting/commenting … (call it what you will) about places and venues that are somewhat overlooked and under-appreciated. And not just in my local area, but across London as a whole – North, East, South, West – it’s about getting out there and discovering new places, whether its finding a cute cafe that’s perfect for a date, or a quirky restaurant for a group outing …. and more importantly it’s an excuse for me to go out and gorge on food and wine all over my favourite city.
So here goes my first review/rant/comment/unimportant opinion but an opinion no less …
SMALL & BEAUTIFUL
Spot: 352 Kilburn High Road
Tube Stop: Kilburn (Jubilee Line)
Time: 8pm – Dinner Time
Cuisine: Modern European
What we ordered:
House Bottle of Rose Wine – £12.95
2 Cokes – £.150 each
1 jug of water
Deep fried potato skins, served with yoghurt – £2.25 (Bargain price for a starter)
Crab Claws on Salad served with Tartar sauce – £2.95
Baked red peppers stuffed with feta cheese, marinated with garlic and herbs – £2.25
Chargrilled salmon fillet served with green peppers, red peppers and green beans – £5.95 (So cheap!)
Slowly braised knuckle of lamb with vegetables and mash potato – £7.95
So Larzy and I strolled down to the next town along to check out this cute little restaurant that had been described to me as ‘Cheap & Cheerful’ by friends. However I’d read a few online reviews and most shamed the restaurant for its poor service, cold food, and the menu’s that were “hand written in pen on what looked like scrap paper…” But screw the reviews. I completely disagree – I loved the hand written Menu’s, it was a very unique touch, and it suited the restaurant’s style. And more importantly, the menus were easy to understand. It’s so frustrating for a not-so-clever person like myself, when a restaurant goes overboard with their Master chef jargon and have menu’s that are in English but may as well be in Chinese.
The food that was served to us – hot food may I point out – was absolutely scrumptious. I couldn’t fault it. We ate every last scrap. And no doubt Larzy would have actually licked the plate clean had he not been in a public place. We each had our own starter and then shared some Potato skins, and all three were delicious. I think the couple next to us thought we were fooling around under the table, but we were simply engaging in food orgasms. As for the mains, my Salmon was lovely, very large for such a small price (I paid £20 for a salmon last week that wasn’t nearly as nice). However, as delicious as my Salmon was, I felt incredible food envy when Larzy’s lamb was presented to him. My mouth actually watered. Upon tasting it, I knew I’d made the wrong to decision to go with the Salmon. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my fish.
And finally the service- okay, so it wasn’t the most spectacular service I’ve ever had, but it was still service with a smile, and that’s all that matters right? Our drinks came quick, as did our food, so no complaints there. I was however disappointed to discover from the waitress that there was no Vanilla Cheesecake left, ten minutes after I had ordered it, and was waiting for it fork in hand. But I was so impressed with our starters and mains that I could easily let it slide (not to mention I would have had to unzip my jeans upon attempting to eat it).
The nicest surprise of all, was just how cheap Small and Beautiful is. And for such good food – it’s almost a wonder how they make any money. I’d definitely recommend it as a great place for a romantic date, or for a small group of friends. I can absolutely see myself eating at Small & Beautiful again. If only to order that lamb!
– You can get a Pizza and a beer for £6
– Small and Beautiful serve Breakfast everyday till 5pm, ideal for late risers like me
– At Christmas time a set menu is available – a 3 course meal, £20 per person; perfect for staff parties
– Small & Beautiful only accept cash or cheques. They do not accept cards which is fairly annoying – however, it’s situated on the busy high street which has plenty of cash points dotted closely around.