Tucked away in theatreland, Cinnamon Bazaar is not your usual “safe-but-dull” pre-show bite – nor is it your average Indian restaurant.
Demure in décor but bold in flavour, Cinnamon Bazaar have recently launched a unique Trader’s High Tea, which involves creating your own chaat from a chamiya; a cute kitsch trolley that does the rounds through the restaurant.
My usual problem with high tea is that they tend to be pricey and limited for what you get. You invariably end up with a doggy bag of cake which you weren’t crazy about; the sandwiches are usually uninspiring (and annoyingly crustless) and it’s all consumed in a stuffy environment. I know this is the point when you take your mum for a birthday treat, but for me, it’s never been a tastebud sensation. So Trader’s High Tea at Cinnamon Bazaar was definitely a refreshing change.
Served on a traditional cake stand we start off with the “sandwiches”, including tandoori chicken and chutney (an homage to coronation chicken) on toasted (nice touch) sliced bread plus a spicy lamb slider. Both totally delicious and definitely not boring. The vegetarian option was naturally a real competitor with a paneer naan pizza and Bengali beetroot burger, dubbed, ‘one the best veggie burger patties I have ever had’ by my guest.
Once the more anglicised side to the festivities is over, next it’s time for the chaats. The savoury street snack, which is slowly being picked up on your street food radar; consists of small wheat crisp bowls filled with a mix of tangy sauces, sweet chutneys, fresh veggies and spices.
At this point the cart wheels its way over allowing you to build-your-own bowls with tamarind yoghurt, chickpea vermicelli, lentils, spices, chutneys and cashews amongst other delights. The whole experience is meant to capture the bustling energy of a vibrant market place of yesteryear India. While it probably isn’t as exciting as a meal in Mumbai, it certainly accomplishes the restaurant’s mission “to explore new flavours and new possibilities”.
To accompany the cold chaats are hot ones, which you can order on the side including aloo tikki chaat; spiced potato cake with curried white peas and chickpea; samosa chaat; punjabi vegetable, tamarind chutney and the inspired watermelon chaat with amaranth seeds, date chutney and masala cashew nut; an unusual but novel treat.
All the above can be washed down with a rich homemade Masala Chai or lighter more aromatic teas (nettle, assam), served in lovely decorative tea pots. If you fancy some boozy bubbles instead, there’s a cinnamon Bellini, which is nice if a tad sweet.
Speaking of sweets, it wouldn’t be high tea without cake. The dessert menu is small, but then again, I don’t think anyone would be craving much more food at this point! The dark chocolate and walnut cake is a little bit dry and heavy if you are totally stuffed and nowhere near as interesting as the carrot halwa roll. Although it was a kind of a spring roll with both orange and black carrot it was most certainly a dessert – and one I would definitely go back for.
28 Maiden Lane