There are a few restaurants that are not just restaurants that I look forward to going to but are more than that. They are sacred spaces that I actually feel nervous about going to. Perhaps it is not nerves but a kind of reverence for how special these places are. I am exceedingly humble when entering and hum with excitement as I am seated. The Cinnamon Club in Westminster is one of these places. It is something to do with the fact that the restaurant is housed within a former library with the books still in place that inspires a degree of deference. It is also down to the restaurant being home to the cooking of Vivek Singh, combining English foods with fine dining Indian techniques. His branch in Soho may be coming to an end but that only makes a visit to his flagship restaurant all the more special.
My companion wen for the okra filled with peanut and jaggery, curried yoghurt and green mango chutney whilst I chose the tandoori octopus with chutney aloo, fennel salad and tomato lemon dressing. The delight I take from the food in the Cinnamon Club is the exquisite delicacy that is at the heart of the cooking here. The okra was sumptuous and when combined with the curried yoghurt and mango chutney, it took on a new level of flavour. As for the octopus, it showcased Singh’s skill at applying fine dining Indian techniques to dishes that you might be familiar with. It was one of those instances where I was not immediately able to comprehend what I was eating but was absolutely captivated.
For main course, my companion and I shared the Old Delhi style butter chicken on the bone which came with black lentils, pilau rice and garlic naan. Butter chicken is my go to when ordering Indian takeaway and to have it here just elevated to a whole new level of wonderment. The chicken slid off the bone and combined fantastically with the black lentils. The quality of the meat was splendid and it caused a little bit of a ruckus between my companion and I as we passively aggressively fought over the remaining pieces.
We finished off the meal with a rapprochement, sharing Royal Punjabi kulfi, which came with honeycomb pistachio crumble and fig and date sticky toffee pudding accompanied by cinnamon ice cream. Both of these were sublime and made the perfect end to what was an unforgettable meal. There is always a danger that with restaurants that come with a great reputation that you might risk building them up too much. However, in the case of the Cinnamon Club, every expectation was met.
The Cinnamon Club
The Old Westminster Library
Great Smith St