9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YL www.cinnamon-kitchen.com
Ten years on from its beginning, Cinnamon Kitchen City is celebrating with a tasting menu of the decade’s favourites. We give it a spin
Ten years is a long time for a restaurant to survive, especially these days. Pop ups of course don’t expect to last long – they get in, catch a short period of social media-fed popularity and then get out while the getting’s good.
Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Kitchen City is a real stayer. I remember ten years ago how wonderfully different it seemed when I first tried it; the restaurant modern and airy, unlike the majority of’Indian’ restaurants at the time.
And the food, too was very different. No curry house staples like Meat Madras or Chicken Dopiaza. In fact, I don’t think there were any curries at all. In place of dishes submerged in sauce came food that was often simply grilled and always bursting with flavours, all distinctly and colourfully set out on the plate.
Tonight, ten years on the place shows no signs of waning popularity, every table seems to be taken. At the back of the room the grill station is sending flames and smoke into the air, or rather into the extractor, and good aromas are rolling around the tables.
If the decor seems a little less impressive than I remember, maybe it’s time playing tricks on me. I’m pretty sure there are more tables packed in than previously, though. There’s a lack of finesse to the spacing and it seems a bit crushed.
The noise levels are high too, the acoustics perhaps not helping but then neither are the City boys near me roaring at each other. Paying twenty-somethings silly sums of money does not make them classier, but only makes them behave worse, in my experience.
The food though is still as good as it ever was, the tasting menu building gently from an appetiser of cured salmon with wasabi followed by the street snack of Jhal Muri both delicately and gently nudging awake the taste buds with minimal spice
This finale is Kentish lamb done three ways: tandoori rump and fillet and a kofta kebab with, corn curry sauce, closely followed by grouse breast, venison and tawa mince, pickling sauce, and beetroot crush
Transition to the finale comes with a delicate grilled aubergine with peanut, sesame and tamarind, and then wild African king prawn with coconut and kasundi mustard.
The ascent from light spicing, to dramatic full-on, impasto, brush stroke spice is skilfully done. There is no sense of increasing overload, or a need to loosen the belt or wipe the brow. You can’t often say that about tasting menus.
By the time the Saffron malai kulfi, honeycomb crumble arrives my sense of satisfaction is complete, appetite and senses sated. Just a coffee, please
We drank a bottle of reasonable red with the meal, there is an option to pair wines with each course and there is a full vegetarian option too.
It’s good to see Cinnamon Kitchen keeping on keeping on, the formula still works even as the dishes have evolved.
I hope they are still here in ten years’ time, I think it’s more than likely they will be