Yesterday someone asked me if I only had the choice being able to eat one cuisine for the rest of my life, what it would be. I retorted saying that the question was completely unfair and unanswerable, despite managing to whittle it down to two. The two? Indian and Italian. You see, I have been a lifelong fan of Italian food. Simple home made pasta with a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil, a splash of lemon, a crack of black pepper, sprinkle of sea salt and shaving of parmesan is one of my ultimate dishes and one that I couldn’t live without. But then there’s Indian – a wafer thin dosa filled with hot and spicy masala potato filling and a creamy dahl are just two dishes of this diverse cuisine that I would never want to say goodbye to.
There are many Italian and Indian restaurants in London, some very good, but most bad. These are two cuisines that have been grabbed hold of, commercialised and in some cases ruined. I can list on one hand the good Italian and Indian restaurants that I have tried but I simply couldn’t remember all of the bad ones that I have been to over the years.
Last week I visited Cinnamon Kitchen in the city, a restaurant that I was previously very aware of by the reputation of sister restaurant, Cinnamon Club in Victoria. Cinnamon Kitchen serves modern Indian cuisine inspired by the same ethos as Cinnamon Club but in a more relaxed setting. When we arrived on a Thursday evening, the local bars were overflowing with city workers enjoying their after work drink.
As we were seated, I was surprised by the size of the tables. Considering this restaurant follows more of a relaxed vibe than Cinnamon Club, a table for two was twice the size of one that I’d usually expect at a casual restaurant. The seats were also twice as comfy!
We chose organic salmon carpaccio, caper ‘kachumbar’ (£8) and seared king scallops and devon crab cake (£12.50) to start, followed by baked sea bream, green spices and yoghurt rice (£16), French black leg chicken and broken wheat ‘kichri’ (£18) with a side of black lentils (£4) and steamed rice (£2.50) for main. We then opted for saffron poached pear with star anise ice cream (£6) and Valrhona dark chocolate souffle with cinnamon cream anglaise and pistachio crisp (£7.50) for dessert.
But first we were treated to a pre starter. Stupidly, as I was so excited, I failed to write down what it was, so I’m sorry that I can’t share that with you. We also polished off a selection of three breads with chutneys (£5) before our starters arrived.
The scallop starter was impressive – a delicate mix of spices, rich crab cakes and tender scallops. The salmon carpacchio was less so and was more like a hefty plate of smoked salmon with a few capers dotted around the plate.
Our black chicken dish was brilliant. Tender chicken breast sat in a well seasoned bowl of spiced broken wheat and flaked almonds. I will forever remember the sea bass dish, not for the piece of fish, but for the unbelievable yoghurt rice and pomegranate that sat on the plate. It was the highlight of my whole evening, partly because it tasted so fantastic, rich and creamy but also because I have never tried anything quite like it before.
We were struggling to think about dessert before it arrived as we had eaten so much food before hand but we managed it. The poached pear was really nothing special but the accompanying star anise ice cream was. But this dessert was nothing compared to the Valrhona dark chocolate souffle with cinnamon cream anglaise. The souffle was sweet and light and matched perfectly with the rich and creamy cream anglaise.
Not content with feeding us enough food to last us a good couple of days, we enjoyed a mini coconut friand like cake post dessert. Service was swift, which meant that no longer than an hour and a half after arriving, we were back out of the door, full, satisfied and with a lasting memory.
Food For Think was a guest at Cinnamon Kitchen
9 Devonshire Square
020 7626 5000