Little Kolkata began life as a supper club and it has retained the intimate and cosy feel of its origins now that it has found a permanent site in the backstreets of Covent Garden. The basic interior might be worn-looking in places, but this adds to the homely ambience created by clay plates and tactile brass tables. Even the higgledy-piggledy steps down to the loos add character.
But while the decor might be plain, the food is vibrant and colorful. Most Indian restaurants in Britain are Bangladeshi-owned, but Little Kolkata is one of the few to put the food of Bangladesh centre stage.
To start, doi papri chaat, an aromatic and creamy mix of potato, wafer and yoghurt, cooled our tongues after the Calcutta-style chilli chicken, which was just inside our comfort zone for spice. To follow, baby chicken in a cashew, rose water and saffron sauce had been slow-cooked for so long that even the bone was tender enough to cut with a spoon.
Truffle paratha, a sweet twist on the usually savoury dish, stood out from the sides we tried; a brownie with subtle hints of coffee and cardamom was a very rich treat to finish with, but the small portion made it the only dish we tried that seemed poor value for money.
Otherwise, though, Little Kolkata’s Bangladeshi food, varied choice of sharing dishes and reasonable prices are more than enough reason to visit.