Islington’s Little Bat may be much younger than its Shoreditch sibling Callooh Callay, but with both a restaurant and bar under one roof, it shows just as much promise.
A small, 24-cover restaurant was added in 2019 alongside the original cocktail bar. The new dining room takes up residence in what used to be known as the back lounge and showcases new twists on modern European classics.
Crisp pieces of fried chicken teamed with pickled cabbage and perfectly spiced hot sauce got our meal off to a good start. To follow, a rich and filling pappardelle with melt-in-the-mouth slow-cooked beef ragu topped with generous amounts of Old Winchester cheese was the best thing we ate. Aberdeen Angus onglet was also cooked just-so, although a lot for just one portion (not a problem if you’re hungry).
To finish, a dark chocolate delice with a refreshing and light passionfruit parfait, raspberries and walnuts made for an attractive balance of sweet and tangy while a selection of cheeses with a sweet flapjack complemented each other well.
The best cocktail we tried was the alluringly named Night of Passion. The sweet concoction mixes oaky bourbon with sugary gingerbread syrup and a tangy squeeze of lemon – a surprisingly good match for the menu’s savoury dishes.
Other cocktails you might expect to find include well-made renditions of familiar serves such as Espresso Martini, Russian Spring Punch and Piña Colada (including a non-alcoholic version) alongside re-discovered classics such as the Blood & Sand, which mixes together Scotch whisky, Cherry Heering liqueur, Belsazar vermouth and orange.
Friendly and knowledgeable staff, a quirky, cosy setting and hearty, warming food made for an all-round good experience that lives up to the hype that Callooh Callay has generated for itself. Islingtonians no longer need to head down the Northern Line to find a decent cocktail.