First it was Lan Kwai Fong, and then it was SoHo. For all the hype that surrounds these two 'restaurant row' areas, it is easy to be charmed into thinking they are the only places in Hong Kong with tiny chic restaurants. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the decidedly un-chic Causeway Bay. The image that area conjures up is of noise and bustle, with restaurants full of loud families and wailing children. The district is as much known for its cornucopia of Chinese and other Asian restaurants as it is for its dearth of cosy Western-style eateries. Those who prefer a classier dining atmosphere normally have to settle for hotel fare such as TOTTs in The Excelsior hotel, or the outrageous prices of the Times Square restaurants. There is also Queen's Cafe, but that has not been quite the same since it moved to new premises. But the 'restaurant row' that has sprung up quietly in the tiny covered courtyard between the residential blocks on Cleveland Street and Paterson Street is slowly changing impressions of the area. The decor of most of the restaurants has a certain uniformity, while the tables spilling out from the restaurants give the whole area a relaxed European atmosphere. The tiled courtyard, complete with fountain, has been one of Causeway Bay's best-kept culinary secrets until recently. Formerly known as 'Fashion Walk' (ming dim gai), it was home to small boutiques selling clothing lines by local designers such as Walter Ma. A facelift last year saw quite a few of the boutiques forced to make way for the gourmets (although Walter Ma remains). The courtyard's new identity started with the Brewery Tap and Restaurant (tel: 2894-9101). This is a good place for a drink, but pub food is hardly nouvelle cuisine and the restaurant did not attract much attention to the area. It was not until new kid on the block Chilli N Spice (tel: 2504-3930) opened its doors along Gloucester Road a few months ago that people started taking notice of the place and its gastronomical gems. Another of the first restaurants to open there was El Cid Spanish Restaurant (tel: 2576-8650), which flanks both sides of the courtyard, offering tapas and other Spanish dishes. As far as Spanish cuisine goes, El Cid is average, but the cosy atmosphere makes up for the food. The resident-singing and guitar-strumming duo come over to warble Spanish songs at individual tables - great for birthday parties. Island Seafood and Oyster Bar (tel: 2915-7110) offers a good selection of fresh oysters from the US and Australia, as well as delicious seafood and pasta dishes. It has friendly service and the chef often pops out of his kitchen to introduce the day's special dishes himself. The Bordeaux Cellar & Bar (tel: 2577-9302) was no doubt initially set up to cater to wine-loving diners while other restaurants waited for liquor licences. It has evolved to serving food as well, although the fare is a lot simpler than that offered by the restaurants. The largest restaurant on the row is Chilli N Spice which seems to be doing good business. The odd layout of the restaurant can sometimes make seating awkward and service difficult but the food is good. Some of its specialities are unusual, such as fried chicken tendons and stuffed squid. The latest addition to the area is the Med Cafe and Restaurant (tel: 2881-1900) which, as its name suggests, offers Mediterranean food and some pasta dishes. So far, it is the only restaurant there still waiting for a liquor licence. But the waiters are quick to suggest a trot to Bordeaux, or to a cheaper selection at the nearby Daimaru Household. For as long as Fashion Walk remains 'undiscovered', there is a chance of getting a nice quiet dinner without being squashed up against the next table, as is often the case in Staunton Street restaurants. How the open-air layout will survive through the humid summer months remains to be seen, however. For the moment, it is still a pleasant experience strolling through the cool courtyard and studying the menus on display before deciding which restaurant to dine at. Who knows? If a few more of the designer shops move out, Hong Kong may just have its own Little Europe right in the heart of Causeway Bay.