It’s without doubt one of the best Indian restaurants in London. It’s housed in a historic grade II listed building near Westminster Abbey. It was once a library and evidently a striking one. Many original features have been retained, giving this unique restaurant a calming and timeless ambiance. Now Cinnamon Club is hosting wine evenings.
Executive Chef and CEO Vivek Singh is introducing a new series of exclusive wine dinners at both Cinnamon Club and its sister restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen. Diners will be introduced to wines that truly do address the very particular issues posed by pairing with Indian food. In fact, doubt about the resulting marriage will evaporate when one tastes the Indian dishes chosen to accompany some very fine European wines.
We attended The Cinnamon Club’s Rhône Valley Wines evening which was held in the Library. This is a delightfully intimate space and perfect for such events. The walls are panelled in dark wood and, yes, there really are books on shelves. It has the air of a private home dining room, although I doubt there are many houses sporting such a bar in the corner these days.
Wines for spicy foods need to be more powerful than the dishes and have plenty of confident character. Indian food intended to be paired with wines should be bold but never searingly overpowering. These dilemmas were solved by Head Chef Rakesh Ravindran Nair and Laurent Chaniac, Cinnamon Club’s wine consultant.
Chef Nair has been working with Vivek since 2003, although this was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting the man who had probably been the architect of many of my previous meals at Cinnamon Club. He is not only a noteworthy chef but he also has a Masters in Mathematics and is a qualified computer professional. He is eloquent, passionate about food and a charming ambassador for this high-end restaurant collection.
Laurent Chaniac is wine consultant to The Cinnamon Club and Kitchen, and hosted our soirée. He has a rich French accent and an evident appreciation of Indian cuisine. He has been described as the sommelier who “has pioneered some revolutionary ideas on pairing wine with the constantly evolving Indian flavours.”
Our evening started with a glass or two of rose champagne paired with Chef’s selection of canapés. These evenings offer small groups of wine and Indian food enthusiasts the opportunity to relax and learn. This is a more gentle experience than a formal masterclass. One learns about a selection of creditable wines while enjoying delightful and carefully chosen dishes in convivial company. Laurent gave information on each bottle and Chef was on hand to discuss ingredients.
The first dish was Scallop and Salmon Ceviche with Pomegranate. This was a culinary stunner with quite subtle and fresh flavours. It was paired with Cote du Rhone Blanc Gigondan. This southern Rhone white complemented the salad which was one of the most delicious I have tasted in a restaurant of any culinary hue for a long while.
Tandoori Saddle of Romney Marsh Lamb with pickling sauce was paired with Gigondas Domaine Les Goubert 2010. I particularly enjoyed this bottle. You can have a taste of southern Rhone at a very reasonable price. Look for this 2010 vintage which I think is a winner and my wine pick of the event.
Char-grilled Loin of Oisin Red Deer with rock moss sauce and pilau rice was a flavourful and aromatic dish and was offered with the unmissable Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine Mathieu, 2011. Lots of red berry notes that go so well with any kind of venison.
Pineapple Shrikhand with garam masala sablé biscuit was our dessert, and presented with Coufis de Paille, M Chapoutier, which was sweet but not cloyingly syrupy – real honey notes here. This amber vintage was served in cut glass that reflected the subtle lighting of the library.
I have been to many food and wine pairing evenings but this has been one of the best. The attention to detail and warm personalities of both Chef Nair and wine consultant Laurent Chaniac encouraged interaction and conversation. And there are more opportunities to enjoy such evenings in the near future. I recommend you book, come with an appetite and an expectation of learning and having fun.
The series will continue on the following dates:
Cinnamon Kitchen: Wines of Loire Valley – 10th June
The western winemaking region of France offers a huge variety of styles due to its continental climate. Among the reds will be Chinon Domaine du Puy Rigault 2011 and Saumur Champigny Domaine Du Fondis from the same year. The meal will conclude with a glass of ultra-sweet Coteaux du Layon, characteristic of the vineyard’s location on sunny south-facing slopes.
The Cinnamon Club: (topic to be confirmed) – 10th July
Cinnamon Kitchen: (topic to be confirmed) – 23rd September
The Cinnamon Club: Burgundy Wines – 16th October
Rounding off the series with one of the most established and celebrated winemaking regions in the world, a fantastic selection of red and white Burgundies will be tasted, including 12 year-old Bourgogne Domaine de la Galopiere and a 30 year-old Santenay premier cru.
The Cinnamon Club
The Old Westminster Library
30-32 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BU
Phone: 020 7222 2555
Visit The Cinnamon Club here
9 Devonshire Square
London EC2M 4YL
Phone: 020 7626 5000
Visit Cinnamon Kitchen here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018