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. 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.
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
Monday to Friday
Lunch: 12 noon – 14:45
Monday to Saturday
Dinner: 18:00 – 22:45
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018