Cinnamon ClubCinnamon Club a Cosmopolitan/Indian delight

The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU

With restaurants like Tamarind, Port des Indes and Zaika all setting brilliant new trends in Indian cuisine in London, the much hyped Cinnamon Club had a lot to live up to. The early reviews from the trendy critic brigade have indeed been mixed, but we at NiteDine can endorse the editor of Tandoori magazine.

The consulting chef on this project was none other than Michelin Star chef Eric Chavot. He spent a lot of time in India planning the menu, and the huge kitchen is now run by Vivek Singh and his hand picked brigade of 11. Vivek comes from an impeccable background, having run the exclusive Rajvilas Hotel in Jaipur.

Cinnamon Club View from the balcony The restaurant occupies what used to be Westminster Library - a Grade 2 listed building with high ceilings, an airy environment and balconies with rows of books - this is not your average Indian Restaurant ambience. After exactly 100 years serving the public and 4 years of closure, it is very impressively back in service again. You may not be asked if you want non-smoking so do ask and you'll find that noise carries in this environment, but don't let it put you off.

We found the cuisine a unique blend of Indian spices with almost Cosmopolitan dishes. They are individually cooked to order; so don't ask for an assortment. All seafood changes on a daily basis, spices have been specially sourced throughout India, and are air freighted monthly along with fresh vegetables. The wine list is also very special, with some new and frankly adventurous pairings being offered.

The service is both first rate and friendly - the staff who served us were mainly French (though one was German or Austrian) all take pride in their restaurant and know both the wines and the dishes in detail. For appetizers we had Home Smoked Lamb Kebabs £5.50 having superb flavors of Mint and Indian spices; the Tandoori Swordfish with Dill Mustard £8.00, was delicious and nicely browned.

Cinnamon Club Spaceous Dining Area The main courses have intriguing descriptions, such as Goan Spiced Duck with Curry Leaf Flavored Semolina £13.00, exotic sounding and, in reality, out of this world, really tender and had a spicy bite. How does, Mustard Flavored Tandoori King Prawns with Saffron Kedgeree £16.50, sound to you? While a lovely dish, my guest found both the prawns and semolina a little too subtly flavored. Our side dishes, Wild Mushroom and Spinach Stir-fry £4.50 and Masala Potatoes, Sautéed £2.50, were as attractively cooked and presented with care as the dishes themselves. The maitre de recommended a Thelema Mountain Vineyards Merlot, which to our surprise and delight was a really effective choice.

I rounded off with Saffron Poached Pears with Cinnamon Ice Cream £6.00 - well, I had to, given the name, didn't I? This was a wonderfully refreshing dish complemented beautifully by the Botrytis Semillon, Glenguin.

The wine list is extensive and impressive. A highly varied choice, though not too many "by the glass".

The lunch menu proffers two and three course meals for £15 and £18, respectively - side dishes an additional £2.50 - £4.50. Main dishes include Tandoori Breast of Guinea Fowl with Black Eyed Beans, Rabbit Biryani and Carrot Halwa Samosa with Yogurt Sorbet. Both intriguing and appealing.

The rest of the clientele looked comfortably spread out, very relaxed, but attentively attended. So, bottom line, if you want high class dining, attentive, knowledgeable staff, and a truly superior atmosphere and not "typically" Indian food - rather a fine taste of India, this is the place for you.

Wally Robertson & Marie Lancup & Mike Hepworth, June, 2001

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Tel: 0207 222 2555
Fax: 0207 222 1333
All major credit cards
Nearest Tube: Westminster (also St James & Victoria)
Price for two: £70.00
Capacity: 180

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