LONDON EATERIES – Anise – a glorious taste of the streets of India in very London city setting

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 19.43.55Anise is the glamorous square mile cocktail bar accompaniment to the well established Cinnamon Kitchen restaurant nestled in the enclave of Devonshire Square, underneath a glorious glass roof that wouldn’t look out of place nurturing the botanical, rather than in this case city bloomers, in Kew gardens.  Having launched a new lunch menu for the fast and the furious city workers myself and my city based dining partner were intrigued to out how the refined, upscale Indian cuisine of Cinnamon kitchen translates to a lighter paired down menu.  We both agreed the translation works without fault, and may I add, is complemented even more with a cocktail or two from the expertly put together cocktail menu from its star bar.

Having launched a new lunch menu for the fast and the furious city workers myself and my city based dining partner were intrigued to out how the refined, upscale Indian cuisine of Cinnamon kitchen translates to a lighter paired down menu. 

We were welcomed to the bar by Gareth the friendly bar manager who was setting up the vast cocktail bar as we arrived.   The interior is decorated in rich purple, gold and mirrors giving it a private and opulent feel.  He offered us a place to sit for lunch and we chose “outside” under the glass roof where there is a great buzz from the city people going about their business and we could eat accompanied by the sound of a classical piano that is set up in the Square for passing city ladies and gents to play.  Whilst perusing the cocktail and lunch menus Francis the warm Restaurant manager came to greet us and welcome us to Anise. It was a little quiet at lunch time probably due to the lunch menu just launching, but Cinnamon Kitchen next door was pumping with trade, sharing a kitchen this was a good sign which left us salivating for the culinary experience we had in store.

Anise Grazing Menu1To accompany our review of the lunch menu I ordered a Cosmopolitan and my colleague a Mary Pickford.  The Cosmo was classic, not too sour or sha
rp and perfect.  The Mary Pickford rum based classic my lunch colleague ordered was perfectly balanced also. The cocktail menu is classic and chic, perfect for the refined gentlemen and ladies of the square mile and beyond.

 The Cosmo was classic, not too sour or sharp and perfect.

The lunch menu itself has been cleverly split by head chef Vivek Singh into a grazing menu and a more a la carte tapas style menu of small dishes all comfortably priced from a lowly 5 pounds.  We decide to go for the grazing menu as that seemed to offer a good mix of about 6 dishes which at 10 pounds per head seemed like an absolute steal!  And a steal it is. As the dishes came the aroma has us salivating long before they reached the table. The portion sizes were enough for 2 big city high flyers to comfortably lunch, and then some! So, what did arrive?  Well a feast of black lentil dahl, stir fried cauliflower, grilled lamb salad, kadahu chicken curry, a crunchy salad and pilau rice. We couldn’t wait to tuck in.

The lunch menu itself has been cleverly split by head chef Vivek Singh into a grazing menu and a more a la carte tapas style menu of small dishes all comfortably priced from a lowly 5 pounds. 

The black lentils were an absolute delight, thick tasty meaty gravy betraying the lack of any four legged beast or foul. The chicken curry was stunning, smoky, moist, if slightly greasy maybe but full of flavour and fabulously balanced spice.  The lamb was again tender, flavoursome and had a tang to it that balanced off the chicken curry dish well.  The crunchy salad was well, crunchy, fresh and scattered with pomegranate seeds that sat like jewels exploding in our mouths with a sweetness again offsetting the tang for the lamb dish and  a great accompaniment to the curry funnily enough. The rice was light and fluffy and we were kindly gifted a further accompaniment of chapattis scattered with onion and coriander and Anise Cocktail Selectionnaan.  Simply lush!

So then, after that taste celebration we couldn’t leave without at least looking at the desserts… so we didn’t and enjoyed a selection of creamy kulfis and sorbets. Perfect palate cleansers.

Two more cocktails later that Gareth kindly made from off the menu we sadly had to leave.  The lunch menu is available between 12-3 every Thursday to Friday and my advice if you’re city side is to get an extra hour in the diary and get down there. You won’t be disappointed by this flavoursome flower in this city greenhouse. I can’t fault the passion that is obvious throughout the cooking, bar tending and service, so go ahead and transport yourself to the glamorous side of Indian street eating one long, long, Indian summer lunch time.

I can’t fault the passion that is obvious throughout the cooking, bar tending and service, so go ahead and transport yourself to the glamorous side of Indian street eating one long, long, Indian summer lunch time.

Anise, Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YL

T: 020 7626 5000

http://www.cinnamon-kitchen.com/Anise

Twitter @anisebar

Heart London 5* rating

Food 5

Service 5

Decor 4

Atmosphere 4

Emma, Heart London Magazine

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