Spicing Things Up at Cinnamon Soho

02 Dec 2016

If you live in London, chances are you’ll have heard of the iconic Cinnamon Club, which redefined modern Indian cuisine when it opened in 2001. Having recently enjoyed the innovative fare of Executive Chef Vivek Singh at his second restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen, I had high expectations for the more informal, vibrant Cinnamon Soho.

The small, dimly lit restaurant, with its simple decor and chairs that wouldn’t be out of place in an school classroom, was a far cry from the majestic setting Cinnamon Club or the chic Cinnamon Kitchen. That said, it had a busy yet relaxed atmosphere and service was quick and friendly. When we finally got around to looking at the clipboard-style menu (we’d had to send our waiter away a couple of times as we were still busy chatting), our waiter was happy to answer our questions about the ‘anglo-Asian’ menu.

We opted for the fresh and light Quinoa and Watermelon Salad with Masala Cashews (£6) and Smoky Spiced Lamb Mince Filled Keema Paratha Flatbread with Pomegranate Raita and House Pickle (£5.75). The plump and juicy Tanjore-Style Grilled King Prawns with Spinach Porial (£17) and tender Chargrilled Cauliflower with Pickling Spices and Sumac Crumble (£9.50) were tasty but, I must admit, I couldn’t help but get food envy when I saw the hearty Lamb Rogan Josh Shepherd’s Pie (£12) being served up at the next table.

To accompany your small plates, you’ll want to order some Pilau Rice (£2), House Black Dal (£4) and Roti (£3) or Peshwari Naan (£4) to go alongside your main dishes. There’s also a selection of wines from £3.90 per glass and Signature Cocktails from £8.

Being a bit of a chocoholic, I’d been veering towards the Bitter Chocolate Tartlet with an Orange and Mint Salad (£6.50) for dessert but the waiter suggested the most popular dishes were the Chilled Rice Kheer with Honey Parfait, Rose and Pistachio (£4.75) and the Pistachio Kulfi on a Stick (£5.50). The Kheer was was sweet and subtly spiced but the frozen ice cream Kulfi was less impressive and, being on a stick, difficult to share!

We ended the meal with some Indian Masala Tea (£3), freshly brewed in-house with cardamom and ginger. Spicy and warming, this was one of the highlights of the evening for me, as I find it so difficult to find authentic chai in London rather than the mediocre ‘Chai Tea Latte’ imitations of franchise coffee shops.

Did Cinnamon Soho live up to my expectations of the exquisite Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen? Not quite – but the bar had been set very high by the famous flagship restaurant. If you don’t want the fuss of a ‘fancy’ restaurant or want a more affordable option for lunch or pre-theatre dinner, the set menus (lunch £12/£15 and dinner £16/£19 for two/three courses respectively) and regular offers make it a good alternative.

Melissa

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