Cinnamon Soho, 5 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PF
Cinnamon Soho was not what we expected. I guess after visiting sister restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen near Liverpool Street, we thought the latest offering from the group would be quite glitzy and special. It is touted as ‘the younger, cheekier sibling to the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen‘. This is a very understated restaurant, situated on the site of the old Red bar in Kingly Street. It didn’t look hugely different to when it was a bar, we didn’t like it then.
Upstairs was quite a buzz, all tables were full so we were led downstairs and coincidentally, ended up sat at exactly the same spot as where we sat when it was the Red bar.
Downstairs was practically empty, a very different story to the floor we’d just left, just a lone man and a couple in the corner. We wished we were upstairs, until I spotted the peep show style kitchen window by our table. We were able to watch the chefs at work, albeit via a tiny strip of cloudy glass.
The kitchen is overseen by head chef Ramachandran Raju, offering modern Indian fare but with a bit of a British twist, hence items such as pies, burgers and kebabs on the menu. We ordered a couple of cocktails, an Orange Julep Bourbon infused with toasted figs, Grand Marnier and gooseberry chutney £8. And a Naked Espresso Martini Vodka infused with coffee beans, tobacco bitters and vanilla £8 for the lady (that’ll be Ade).
We are so the wrong way round. Unremarkable cocktails, OK, but nothing to get excited about. Ade’s Naked Espresso Martini didn’t do much for him, and it is his cocktail of choice. It was very pale in colour and very thin in consistency, not as creamy as usual. The tobacco bitters made it taste as if someone had flicked ash in his drink…
Naanza - naan bread pizza with spiced paneer £4.80 was delicious, pretty much as described, with a sweet sauce delivering an after blast of spice. The Kingly Seekh Kebab wrapped in naan bread, felt like a bargain at £6.50. Warm fluffy naan wrapped around a juicy lamb kofta, drizzled in raita. Pretty much perfect. Sharing was a hard task, especially as I couldn’t eat the Naanza due to the cheese factor.
For mains I ordered the Roganjosh shepherd’s pie £12, I’d had my eye on Vivek Singh’s pies for some time, so why I ordered a pastry-free one, I don’t know. A big error. Plus the mash contained paneer, so Ade and I had to swap. The little pie was full of chunks of lamb rather than minced, sprinkled with peas and served, very oddly, with a side salad. I don’t know about you, but a side salad is not what springs to mind as an accompaniment when eating a pie. Also strange to have such a huge jump in price, especially for such a small serving. Twice the price of the kebab!
Ade’s Tandoori spiced chicken, cashew nut korma, pilau rice £12.50 didn’t look very exciting compared to the previous dishes, but it tasted so good, oh so comforting. The chicken tender and not overcooked, as it so often can be, with a subtle creamy sauce. A couple of extra branches of broccoli wouldn’t have gone amiss though.
In our tired state, we somehow missed the section of ‘balls’ on the menu, despite it being in a huge green strip in the middle. Really wanted to try the scotch egg as well, this visit was not going to plan, we should have inspected the menu more thoroughly rather than gassing and writing Christmas lists. Or possibly the waiter could have mentioned them to us. Talking of which, the service was good, attentive and quick, and not too intrusive.
Dessert for me was Sticky toffee pudding with ginger and garam masala £4.75, it was fantastic but it tasted a bit too British. Faultless baking, a fine moist sponge, just could have done with a bit of a kick to differentiate it from the norm. Ade’s Chocolate & cumin cake, pistachio ice cream £5.50 was a similar story, not much cumin coming through the chocolate. The pistachio ice cream was the oddest waxy texture, and didn’t really taste of pistachios.
However, we had that reassuring chat the next morning about the chicken and that wonderful kebab, a sure sign that it was memorably tasty. Food of this standard deserves slightly better surroundings though, not posher, just a bit more interesting. One for the ‘return to’ list, and this time, bring us balls and pies!
5 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PF
Telephone: 0207 437 1664
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am – 1 am ( last food order 11pm)
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus