The Cinnamon Club
Now I’ll admit this isn’t my first venture to The Cinnamon Club. I was fortunate enough to be taken last year, and what a revelation it was! This restaurant is not only a model for fine dining, but a stellar example that haute cuisine need not be limited to its classic origins. Today we understand this more than ever, with London’s restaurants offering Michelin standard dishes with influences from all over the world; Japanese to Scandinavian, Chinese to South American, British to Indian and everything in between. What makes The Cinnamon Club (and Head Chef Vivek Singh) so special is that it was one of the pioneers of this trend, having opened its doors and our minds to Michelin-starred Indian cooking since 2001.
Everything about this establishment is refined and classy. Stepping into the Hogwarts style grade II-listed library with its high ceilings and book adorned walls you sense that many an important or grand plan of nearby Westminster politicians has been consummated over plates of regal Indian dishes.
We are seated on a big round table which is large enough to stretch out and not overhear the conversations of nearby diners. This is a lost trend in London’s restaurant scene, as floor space gets smaller, and more tables are crammed together to make bigger margins. After perusing the menu we ask the waiter, who has thorough dish knowledge, for recommendations. We opt for a meat heavy affair – duck and lamb to start, with a sharing chicken dish for mains. The sommelier arrives and suggests a 2011 French Burgundy to go with our dishes, a great choice – fresh and light, with slightly spiced vanilla notes in the aftertaste.
After a lovely amuse bouche rice cake, the starters arrive. The Smoked Herdwick lamb escalope and galouti kebab mille feuille dish has three variations of lamb. The top layer is a melt-in-your-mouth spiced galouti kebab patty; the next layer is a courser minced lamb with added heat and the final layer is Vivek’s take on lamb ragu, made with green chutney and yoghurt. This accompanies a wonderful seared Gressingham duck breast, which sits on a creamy and textured sesame peanut crumble, along with a crunchy and spiced duck leg and mappas roll.
A cart pulls up to our table, and on it sits our main course of old Delhi style butter chicken. It is served tableside, and the waiter distributes legs of chicken and lashings of creamy buttery sauce onto plates, as we salivate over the condiments served alongside. The garlic naan is a taste-sensation, with roasted garlic aromas reaching our nostrils as we bite into the charred yet pillowy bread. A dish of black lentils compliments the chicken main, adding textures and savoury notes to the sweet butter chicken sauce. The pilau rice acts as the perfect sponge, soaking up the remaining sauce so that we devour everything, and all but lick the plate clean.
Part indecisiveness and part greed makes us select the sharing dessert platter. This is a selection of Cinnamon Club’s finest desserts and thankfully the renowned Baked Jalandhar is on there. This dish is a take on a Baked Alaska, with thandai, spiced meringue and saffron and carrot halwa ice cream used in place of the traditional elements. Other highlights include a delicate green cardamom brulée with rose petal biscotti and a rich chocolate and rasgolla tart with a calamansi (or kumquat) and passionfruit sauce.
Nearly fifteen years old, this institution is still one of the capital’s most noteworthy culinary destinations, thanks not least to Vivek Singh’s daring, explorative and innovative take on Indian cuisine. Those looking for a special occasion venue, a client lunch with a difference or simply fans of full-flavoured cooking, head to Westminster for a (refined) taste of India.
The Cinnamon Club and renowned Marylebone haunt The Providores and Tapa Room have teamed up to celebrate their milestone 15th anniversaries with a one-night-only collaboration involving a 6 course dinner on Tuesday 21st June featuring the finest dishes from acclaimed chefs Vivek Singh and Peter Gordon. Find out more here >