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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Anise Bar at Devonshire Square

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen

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Restaurant Review
- Cinnamon Kitchen

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Anise Bar at Devonshire Square

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen

Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen

Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen There are several worthy Indian restaurant groups in London. I shrink from calling them chains as that tends to denote an overly-casual concept and perhaps a tendency towards iffy food.  These prestigious Indian restaurant collections have over the past decade elevated our perceptions of Indian food beyond measure. Cinnamon Group is a trio of unique restaurants each with its own character, menu and ambiance but with a consistent thread of quality common to all.

Cinnamon Kitchen straddles the divide between casual and fine dining. Head Chef Abdul Yaseen has been with this restaurant for the past 6 years but has been with the Group since 2001. His food is exceptional. The menu isn’t the longest I have seen but that’s no bad thing. It has a focus on innovation and tradition and a lot of comfort.

The diners here were a smart bunch but the kinds of city folk who arrive besuited but remove the jacket on sitting. The restaurant is large but the high ceilings allow for a lively buzz of conversation that never becomes intrusive. It’s an Indian restaurant for sure but it has contrived to be a contemporary restaurant that happens to sell Indian food. There is a nod to exotica in the guise of pierced metal lampshades but they are a decorative accent as far removed from a velvet interpretation of the Taj Mahal as one would want …and one would want!

Char-grilled lamb fillet with ginger and nutmeg was my choice of starter. The meat was meltingly tender and flavourful. A delicate charring was perfect and accentuated the mild lamb flavour. I would normally share a bite of my plates with my guest – it’s always interesting to have another perspective. I didn’t bother on this occasion.Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen Why disturb my eating companion, who was contentedly nibbling asparagus. No, say nothing and enjoy these lamb gems alone. Greed is a terrible affliction.

My partner was in no way short-changed. He pronounced the sparrow grass a triumph and was delighted with his main course of decadent king prawns ‘malai’ curry with spinach and coconut poriyal served with ghee rice. Poṟiyal is the Tamil word for a fried or sometimes sautéed vegetable dish. The prawns were large and succulent and the sauce was comforting and silky. A must-try at Cinnamon Kitchen.

Peshawar-style beef curry with chillies and red onions with pilau rice was the traditional gravy dish that tempted me. Beef tends to be a less-common curry item, as fewer people eat beef in India than in Europe. This was rich with a heat that allowed the natural flavour of the meat to showcase. Cinnamon Kitchen has been supporting the charity ‘Curry for Change’, of which I am an ambassador, by donations when this particular item was ordered. Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO of the Cinnamon Group, has long been a supporter of this and other organisations that offer help to the under-privileged.Dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen

Cinnamon Kitchen has desserts that truly do reflect the taste of their European diners but still give a nod to the sub-continent. Cumin profiteroles with cardamom shrikhand is a marriage of two classic desserts, one Indian and the other French; and served with Hungarian Tokaji this is an international delight.

This restaurant fits perfectly with contemporary London and discerning diners. It clings to the spirit of traditional Indian cuisine but presents confident innovation. Cinnamon Kitchen won’t disappoint. Head Chef Abdul Yaseen has a deservedly solid culinary reputation.

Cinnamon Kitchen & Anise
9 Devonshire Square
Tel +44 (0) 20 7626 5000
Fax +44 (0) 20 7397 9611
Visit Cinnamon Kitchen here

Opening times
Monday to Friday
Lunch: 12 noon – 14:45
Monday to Saturday
Dinner: 18:00 – 22:45

food and travel reviews

Anise Bar at Devonshire Square

aniseOne might not have heard of Anise Bar but it’s likely the discerning diner will have heard of Cinnamon Kitchen by Vivek Singh. Perhaps one might not have heard of Devonshire Square but everyone has heard of the City of London. There are associations with India in the very fabric of the buildings here.

Between 1768 and 1820 the East India Company built warehouses on this land for their flourishing Asian trade. Those warehouses stored raw silks and textiles from India. In the 1830s the warehouses were sold to the St Katharine Dock Company, and at the start of the 20th century they were bought by the Port of London Authority. Clocks, oriental rugs, all manner of exotic goods and tea were all stored here. But by the 1950s most of the tea business had been moved to the London Dock, and the space was then used to store other beverages such as wine, port and sherry.  The warehouses closed in the late 70s with the advent of shipping containers.

anise Installation of the high and impressive roof over the Western Courtyard is a feature of this contemporary and striking refurbishment. The original brick façades still remain although those bricks, which have seen so much haulage activity, have been cleaned to a soft honey colour. A unique open space has been created which is usable all year round.

Cinnamon Kitchen has a beautiful vista over this piazza. It has dining inside and out, and there is Anise Bar and Lounge attached, which is a classy entity in its own right and is becoming the watering hole of choice for savvy city workers and for those who have discovered this to be a Destination Bar.

Anise is part of Vivek Singh’s collection of restaurants, with Cinnamon Club in Westminster being the Grande Dame. Yes, this bar is geographically connected to Cinnamon Kitchen but it’s independent, so you don’t need to be visiting with a whole meal in mind. But they do offer food here which is very much Indian inspired, and it’s from the Kitchen so offering a little taster of the goods next door. Hot and sweet shrimp skewers with mango dip, Pepper chicken “toddy shop style”- stir-fried chicken thighs with cracked Malabar pepper and onion, and Paratha Platter - fresh baked tandoori flatbread with Punjabi black lentils - are unmissable bar snacks here. I am often asked what my preferred Indian meal might be: well, the shocking truth is that I crave bread and lentils. Pure comfort and deliciously executed here.

anise But Anise is a Bar so food will likely be accompanied by some beverages with, perhaps, a soupçon of the East. Talented Bar Manager Rafa Santi hails from Brazil where, I hear, they have a tradition of excellent cocktails. This man has a quick laugh, professional flair and inspiration. He presents classic as well as House cocktails which draw on flavours of Asia. For instance Asian Sour Apple - Zubrowka vodka, apple sake, fresh lime and apple juice - would be tempting for this Japanese sake lover, as would Spiced Plum Saketini - Bombay Sapphire, plum wine, sake and galangal. Sake is trending!

Singapore Sling is a standard in many bars but here the expected ingredients are laced with coriander and ginger along with hibiscus sugar. Rafa adds a point of difference.

Nashi Momo is another cocktail with notes from afar although nashi pears are now grown in the UK. This is Bacardi Oro, peach liqueur, coconut, fresh lime, guava juice and nashi pear. A tall, light and refreshing cocktail but alcoholic. Raspberry Cooler is a virgin option and seasonal - fresh raspberries, fresh lemon, vanilla sugar and lychee juice are combined to produce a blushing thirst-quencher.

There is a small but perfectly formed wine list here for those who don’t want their drinks fiddled with. I would recommend 2014 Gewürztraminer Réserve, Cave de Hunawihr, Alsace, France, or a wine for which I have a passion, 2014 Malbec, Kaiken Reserve, Argentina. Both reds and whites are solidly chosen at Anise and some are available by the glass.

Rafa Santi is an apt front for Anise. His skill and personality shine in every glass. Come here for drinks before dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen, but you will be in good company if you choose this spot for a smart drink or two before heading home after a long day at the coal-face, or as a well-located venue near Liverpool Street Station for meeting friends. It’s making its mark.

anise Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday: 17:00 – 24:00

Anise Bar at Devonshire Square
9 Devonshire Square

Phone: +44 (0) 207 626 5000

Visit Anise Bar here.

food and travel reviews

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

It seems a bit early for pondering Christmas presents but, trust me, it’s not. If you have a passionate food lover in your near vicinity you might want to ditch the summer holiday brochures for half an hour and consider a masterclass.

cinnamon collection masterclass There is a compelling reason why your Christmas (or birthday / anniversary / graduation / retirement) gift shopping should start now when daffs are still fresh in the park: Cinnamon Collection masterclasses are popular and sell out fast. They offer classes for those interested in preparing vegetarian specialities; the Barbecues and Roasts days are bound to draw a crowd; Secrets from the Southern Indian kitchen will teach you how to make a stunning biryani; and November offers a game masterclass with Vivek Singh himself. Places are already limited for that one.

All masterclasses are not created equal. The Cinnamon Collection classes have the guests actually cooking. But the day starts in European fashion with coffee and croissants, some history of these outstanding restaurants, Health and Safety instructions, and allocation of aprons. Almost collectors’ items, these embroidered beauties are decorated with the company logo, making a fine souvenir of the event …and there will be more later.

The ratio of students to chefs will likely be just 2 to 3 guests with a chef or two looking after them. You won’t be expected to have professional skills and you won’t be rushed. There is no pressure and it’s fine if you just want to watch. For those who want to get stuck in then there is plenty of opportunity to chop, mix, fry, braise, crumble and sprinkle. You will come away with a pack of recipes that really work and which you will be confident enough to replicate at home.

cinnamon collection masterclass You have practised your new culinary arts all morning. The dishes are displayed. You have swelled with pride. So, now it’s time to relax with a glass of fizz in the kitchen.  The chefs would have prepared sufficient quantities of all the masterclass dishes and these are presented as a feast to be enjoyed by the whole group of guests around a table in the restaurant. Wine and conversation flow and there is nothing more to do, other than choose a complementary cookbook penned by Vivek who will be delighted to sign it. A final and lasting souvenir of a fun and memorable day.

The Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses are thoroughly engaging. The chefs have had plenty of experience of supporting novices. It’s a thrill to work in a professional kitchen and one becomes a far more confident cook. One might not feel that a tandoor would be a worthwhile addition to the remodelled kitchen, but Indian food will probably be on the menu more often chez vous.

14th May - Vegetarian Wedding Feast with Hari Nagaraj, who is an excellent chef and has been with the group since its early days. He’s not new to conducting these events, and has a knack for inspiring and comforting culinary beginners. The Vegetarian Wedding Feast Masterclass teaches participants how to use traditional and modern Indian cooking methods to prepare a range of vegetarian dishes, ideal for celebrations, festive occasions and sharing with friends and family.

cinnamon collection masterclass 16th July - Barbecues and Roasts with Rakesh Nair, who is a charming and able chef with the ability to put even raw beginners at their ease. The Barbecues and Roasts Masterclass is inspired by the British love of all such dishes, with recipes such as barbecued poussin with tomato fenugreek sauce, and whole roasted sea bream with green spices.

10th September - Secrets from the Southern Indian Kitchen with Chef Ramachandran Raju, who is a pleasure to work with and always has time to offer individual help. Learn how to make the iconic biryani of black-leg chicken, and South Indian rice pancakes with spicy sambar, a traditional lentil broth.

19th November - Game with Vivek Singh, who is a well-known celebrity chef but takes pleasure in introducing others to his cuisine. India has centuries-old hunting traditions and this class offers dishes such as chargrilled partridge with peanuts and dried mango, and green spiced pheasant with kedgeree.

For more information and to book any of the above classes visit here

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