When I got back to work in January, amidst the junk of my email inbox, a toptable email surfaced. Normally I would have waved it aside, knowing most of the offers would be desperate restaurants I had never heard of advertising meal deals I didn’t want.
Then something caught my eye: The Cinnamon Club in St James. Now, I have a confession. I have been there before with the full intention of writing it up for the blog, but my childish excitement and hunger got in way and the idea completely bypassed me. It was only after I leant back on my chair pouffe to contemplate the feast, that I realised that I totally forgotten to take photos. But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and I saw this another chance to go back and do the whole thing again; and I felt a cold rainy night in January was the perfect opportunity
The Club itself is situated in the back street of St James behind Westminster Cathedral. Even though, this is such a famous part of London, it is not my stomping ground and there was a certain amount of walking and peering around corners to see if we are in the right place.
After a swift glass of champagne (always an excuse to drink it when there is nothing at all to celebrate), we were taken to our table. Being British and hungry on a cold winters evening, I immediately asked if we could have some poppadoms. We were swiftly told that no such thing was served here and they had a paratha basket with chutney instead. There were two different types of paratha (more delicate pastry-ish version of naan bread): one was white, covered with a sweet and sticky cardamom syrup and then the second was wholemeal with grated vegetables and chilli baked it in (the chilli only make itself present after the second huge mouthful… it was fiery to say the least) These were accompanied by three chutneys, a fig one, a pepper based one and one garlicky ginger one.
A little offering of a sweet potato ball with a creamy raita was presented before our starter. This really whet our appetites for the banquet ahead.
I chose a stir-fry shrimps with red pepper and garlic glaze, and layered paratha (same as basket. It was delicious, glistening in their glaze, and accompanied by herby raita and salad. My dining companion chose the char-grilled breast of Cartmel Valley pheasant with chickpea and tamarind, which was so vibrantly coloured and equally vibrant in flavour!
We got a bit excited about main course and managed to devour half of it again before I remember to take pictures, so I apologise for the partly nibbled photographs below. I chose the tandoori Welsh lamb fillet, rich onion sauce and saffron pula. The lamb was succulent, tender and perfectly pink in the middle, with some green vegetables and saffron rice. The sauce was rich and subtly partnered the delicate meat.
My companion had the baked sea-bass with onion chilli sambal, spinach priyal and yoghurt sauce. The meat was delicious and moist with a seasoned confit on top, which I am guessing was the onion chilli sambal.
This left us full to the brim with only an inch of space for pudding. I was particularly looking forward to this as I haven’t really experienced puddings with an Indian twist as I just always overindulge at the beginning. We decide to share a Thandai custard tart with cinnamon ice cream and a warm dark chocolate mousse with white chocolate ice cream. The tart was rich and creamy, brimming with spices and winter warmth as they used cinnamon instead of the traditional nutmeg used in Portuguese custard tarts. The chocolate mousse was hot, and melted inside which gave it more of a fondant centre, but aptly fitting for such a wintry night.
In all, it was a very enjoyable evening; the food and wine delicious and a great atmosphere (both times I have been there, the couple on the next door table have asked what we ordered and was good!). The only downfall was that the paratha basket and chutney set us back £8 which for bread and flour and some spices was totally overpriced. Sadly, this left a rather sour taste after such an incredible journey through the Indian spice trail.