Tom does the maths at Spiga and Small & Beautiful

E=MC2. No – I’ve never really understood it either. And anyway, eating and drinking is much more fun than algebra. With that in mind, it’s time for a couple of shout-outs to two NW6 eateries which seem to consistently get their calculations right. First off, Spiga. We’re lucky with Italian food here; we have La Smorfia, Hidden Treasure and Sarracino, all offering a different vibe and style, whether pizza, pasta, or something else. There’s “J” and Pizza Express too, come to think of it, and La Brocca also does a mean pizza.

At my recent outing to Spiga I dived straight in with the bresaola to start with. I had a feeling this would be a winner and indeed it was. A vibrant and appetising crimson colour, generous portion size, and the blend of wild mushrooms, Parmesan shavings and rocket it was served on really made for an enticing starter. Continuing the theme, I rather greedily had a main of gnocchi with more wild mushrooms, and a Gorgonzola sauce. Here we go, my kind of food! Big, satisfying, bold….so much going on! The warmest of service (as ever), and plenty of good wine, added to my now jovial frame of mind. It’s not difficult to see why Spiga has quickly become such a success, especially when you find it’s not as expensive as you might have expected.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the good value experienced at Spiga left me with some loose change with which to pop into Small & Beautiful in Kilburn, for a nice, relaxing late dinner. My favourite seat by the window was free, and I browsed the menu whilst chortling at the usual comedy that is the Kilburn High Road. Or maybe that was my reflection in the window. From the “3 courses for £6” option (I’m not joking), I tried broccoli soup (decent), and added a salad which included pleasing feta and great olives. The main was the standout: Vietnamese fish (can’t remember which – I did ask – perhaps that Cobbler thing but under its more scientific name) with a pesto coating, a potato side and spinach. Really, surprisingly delicious! With enthusiasm I tackled (as if it were a challenge – ha!) the Tiramisu, which was sponge-based rather than matching the menu’s “biscuit and cream” description. Guzzling a Shiraz, I had the rare experience of looking at a bill and being genuinely amazed at how little it had all come to.

E=MC2. Whatever! Pour me another glass someone…all this maths is making my head spin! Enjoyable food, wine and ambience – all at friendly prices – that’s more the sort of equation I want to puzzle over.

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