Restaurant review; Bayou, Camden Town, NW3

The Bayou, in Camden Town

The Bayou, in Camden Town - Credit: Archant

There’s a whole lot of burgers and southern style ribs and chicken being chowed down in London these days, but on the way to Bayou in Camden Town it crossed my mind that this is the first Creole-themed eatery in the capital.

A quick Google search kind of confirmed this; the nearby Blues Kitchen does dish up gumbo and Chelsea’s The Big Easy definitely nods in that direction but I reckon this is the only place dedicated to beignets, grits and crawfish. I stand to be corrected, though.

It struck me as a masculine sort of meal so after enlisting a couple of pals we headed down, supped some locally brewed-ales and dared each other to try the meat cocktail (actually rather nice, certainly not as bacon-tasting as you might imagine).

The menu was chock full of Louisiana tidbits which confused the bejasus out of me. Luckily a glossary is provided to help you when ordering hush puppies, biscuits (not the McVities variety), dirty rice and the like.

Sticking to safety first, we kicked off with the wings, which were incredible, fiery little beasts with just a hint of charred bitterness.

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Feeling more adventurous, we tried the eggplant fritters –surprisingly good – and some smokey, smokey ham, with rich sausage gravy and a helping of the aforementioned biscuits (rather like a savoury scone).

The gumbo was a thick, gloopy hotpot, packed with fantastic burnt spice flavour and indulgent chunks of vegetable and chicken.

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And though Creole chicken is probably best avoided – far too salty to finish – the catfish was the undisputed champion of the table: delicately flavoured fish on a lavish bed of garlic prawns.

All this with lashings of creamy homemade ’slaw on the side, naturally, while the pudding consisted of more fritters, this time with an autumnal cinnamon kick - again, I was surprised by how tasty these were.

If you like new culinary experiences, and who doesn’t, Bayou is well worth checking out. There’ll almost certainly be something there you haven’t tried before. But, if you get scared, there’s plenty of old favourites too.

Jon Dean

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