(Visited December 2012)
We still cannot believe it took us ten years to get to visit the Cinnamon Club, but finally here we are. A wet pre x-Mas Saturday noon, the place is half full, but a continuous stream of punters will keep flowing in until we leave.
The room is magnificent, having stolen the premises of the former Westminster library – pity the place is not busier, so that what looks like a reading room in a former life, now turned into a first floor dining room, is inactive.
Service is laid back though attentive, if we close an eye on the error in the bill at the end (guess in whose favour: it’s a mystery why such casual mistakes are not 50% in our favour).
Well, the food then: many tempting choices, we began with “Tandoori breast of red leg partridge with chickpea and tamarind“, and a “Char-grilled Welsh lamb fillet with nutmeg, sweetbread bhaji and caper kachumber“.
Let’s face it, although we’ve eaten tons of it, we can’t say we know much about Indian food, so any allusion these dishes are making to flavour combination in more traditional dishes, if any, fly over us uncomprehended: but these starters definitely do taste good! The spices hit you with clarity one after the other, each new layer displacing the previous one, lingering on and enhancing the taste of each mouthful. For us, both lamb and partridge breast were a bit overdone, and while the lamb was still succulent, the partridge had turned dry. But the spices in the wonderful chickpeas again did the trick and saved the dish.
Now for mains – the “Pan fried bitter gourd filled with spiced Jerusalem couscous, yellow lentil sauce” is indeed uncompromisingly bitter: it is stuffed with what reminds us more of Sardinian fregola than cous cous, but it is good. Brave choice to go for something so at the far end of the bitterness scale. We suspect it won’t find too many takers, though any fan of wild dandelion leaves or wild chicory will love it, and they include us! The yellow lentil sauce sweetens the proceedings, and overall this is a very pleasing if not too classily presented dish (onion cutting all over the place).
The “Roast loin of Cumbrian wild red deer with corn and millet kedgeree, pickled vegetables” was high quality and this time a perfectly cooked piece of meat, though slightly on the cold side by the time we got it. Served with a lovely take on corn and millet kedgeree, with unadvertised white rice and greens, it was a pleasure to eat and representative of the fusion style this cuisine promotes.
We had to behave to skip dessert, as the Ras Malai is almost irresistible for Woman&Man. But this means we’ll be back! For, the vibrancy and subtlety of that spicing will certainly linger in our memory longer than the errors and imperfections.