Vivek Singh isn't just a man about town, he is THE man about town. Known for the Cinnamon group, one of the best Indian restaurant names in the city, he's not only curated an empire, he's curated a delicious empire where anglo-Asian dishes get their trophy podium. I've been lucky enough to try nearly all of the Cinnamon branches in London from their Covent Garden Bazaar down to their City hide-out (I know, I know, perks of the job), but there was another place to dab on my Cinnamon bingo slip, and that was their Soho branch.
The Venue and Atmosphere
While the City branch is seductive and the Covent Garden restaurant flirts subtly, I'd say that the Soho branch is the playful younger sister of all three. With two dining floors and two street side spaces making up the bones of this space, decor comes in the shape of upcycled cactus tins, rustic trinkets hanging on the walls and wooden school chairs, all the while indulging a backdrop of bare bulbs and stripped, pastel walls.
While the restaurant is as cute a space as any, the terrace wins on the sweet and petite front. Currently home to a green-led space in forces with with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, it's been decked out in salvaged furniture and 'upcycled' cocktails alongside a street food menu geared to reducing food waste in a sustainable fashion. Right up my alley.
The Food and Drink
While we were only dipping in for lunch, I wasn't ready for the whole three-course runaround, but I was ready for wine and savoury dishes and I was ready for them now. The liquid base for our entire meal was to be a simple white, as we didn't want to overpower the spices, diving into a first course of crab and curry leaf balls with a rich yoghurt at £5.50 alongside an aloo parathas with potato and a hint of chilli for just £4.75 (this is a massive Indian breakfast speciality, and not one my boyfriend could skip). Not only did I think the price of both dishes for the portion sizes were spot on, my petite crab balls were packed with a subtle, savoury kick both quelled and enriched by the yoghurt, while the parathas was filling and ample in size, flatbread holding its shape alongside the lovely and low-key spice of the potato within.
I'm terrible at scouring through menus before I visit a restaurant, which meant that before our trip to Cinnamon Soho I thought I was already on the path to victory with their Paneer 65 (£11.50) before i'd even tasted it. Sharing this alongside my boyfriend (whose serving came alongside the house black dal and a garlic naan), I also tucked into their Kerala style boatman haddock curry with tomato and tamarind at £13.00. The texture of the paneer was beyond perfect, all owing to slight glaze enriched in curry leaf and green chilli, this served alongside a warm naan was the ultimate indulgence for veggies and non-veggies alike. I've always loved haddock in a curry, but the tomato and tamarind added a depth to the fish that was flawless and warming to the core.
I'm a massive fan of the Cinnamon name, and being a fan means having a lot farther to fall when disappointment comes calling. So let's be honest with each other, you'll never find disappointment here. Another back-up to the brand, the Soho branch is petite, it certainly differs from the other locations, and it wholeheartedly reflects the bustle of the inner city. Not only are the dishes as fragrant as they are firm in flavour, Cinnamon's menu recollects a passion for spices and keeps the Asian game going, even with its British flecks.