Making a trio of successful Indian restaurants with The Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Soho, Cinnamon Kitchen is a funky fusion of city dining with Asian flair. Executive Chef and CEO Vivek Singh combines his classical Indian training and innovation with Head Chef Abdul Yaseen’s culinary skills, and it works.
Tucked away in the courtyard at Devonshire Square, the restaurant is a spacious division between the restaurant and the corresponding bar called Anise. The restaurant features wooden tables and cream walls, with Indian-style lanterns illuminating the dining area. In front of the wall-length grill at the far end, there are a row of spectator’s dining seats, perfect for watching the kitchen staff in action. The outdoor patio area is extensive, and would be delightful in the summer months.
The prevailing feeling is that of warmth and open space, with friendly and efficient staffing. Under the careful management of General Manager Jean-Luc Giquel, formerly of Chez Nico, Galvin’s and Le Manoir, the restaurant is run impeccably. The waiting staff are attentive and knowledgeable, with recommendations being given in light of understanding the various dishes’ components – an excellent sign for diners who are a little unsure of what to select. The clientele is a wide mix of businessmen, families and couples, with the décor and low lighting being suitable for any sort of gathering.
Scouring the precise menu at Cinnamon Kitchen, you might be forgiven for thinking this is not a strictly Indian restaurant. All the dishes are intriguing matches between Indian flavours and fresh ingredients, leading to non-traditional combinations that sound absolutely mouth-watering. However, there are traditional elements and for those looking for halal fare, the restaurant has a selection of dishes that are completely halal, all sourced from local vendors.
First, the selection of naan bread – which includes a cheese and a sweetened option – is very moreish. Served with a mashed pea sauce, chilli sauce and sweet tamarind sauce, these are quickly scoffed by even the most dignified diner. A house speciality, a moist cake-like dish made with chickpeas and topped by a green paste, is soft and beautifully constructed.
For starters, the Bombay spiced vegetables with truffle pao (£7.50) is well cooked and the vegetables suitably seasoned, but the real winner is the Lobster soup with Devon crab and chilli toast (£12.50). The soup is thick and creamy, and the crab and chilli toast gives the dish a hearty kick that is simply delicious.
It is difficult to select from the list of main dishes, but the meat dishes are too spectacular to miss. The Tandoori spiced red deer with root vegetables and a yoghurt sauce (£32.00) is tender and succulent, and the creator of the dish perfectly complements the rich meat with the tang of the dressing. The smoked saddle of Kentish lamb with saffron sauce and accompanied with a garlic and cumin mash (£23.00) melts in the mouth, with the mash being an interesting - but welcome – take on a classic British side.
The dessert menu further demonstrates the chef’s skill at creating great fusion dishes. The buffalo milk kulfi and dum cooked vermicelli nest (£6.00) is smooth, creamy and delicious, the vermicelli adding a hint of sweetness to the relatively less sweet pistachio flavour of the kulfi. The cumin profiteroles with cardamom shrikhand (£7.00) come highly recommended, and rightly so. Though at first the cumin flavour of the profiteroles is a little disorienting, the combination of the cardamom sauce and the thick, almost yoghurt-like quality of the cream contained within are a celebration of flavour.
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are served, with thoughtful choices amongst both menus. The non-alcoholic cocktails include the fantastic Apple Pie (£4), with apple sauce, lemon, apple juice, vanilla and cinnamon; and the Pom Pom (£4), a whimsically pink creation with lychee, pomegranate, lime and cucumber.
On the alcoholic front, the wines are reasonably priced, with the warming 2011 Back Block, Syrah from New Zealand (glass £8.50) adding an extra layer of spice to dishes, whilst balancing a plum and oak taste. The dessert wines are also excellent, with the 2007 Tokaji Blue Label from Hungary (£ 9.80), which is potent yet sweet, a perfect choice for balancing dishes such as the saffron poached pear.
The Last Word
For Indian cuisine lovers and novices alike, this is the ideal choice for a relaxed evening out. Delicious food, a warm atmosphere, and excellent staffing make this an easy selection for any kind of social event. The novel nature of the dishes makes them well worth a try.