LONDON EATERIES – Cinnamon Bazaar Sizzles
Covent Garden is a cultural melting pot attracting people from all over the world. Its very traditional foundations now boast the very latest in fashions and trends and it bustles with shops and market stores offering myriad goods and services. The perfect place to open a restaurant that offers modern Indian dishes inspired by marketplaces located on trading routes that connected the empires of the old world. So one evening, I and my obliging other half, visited a restaurant that promised the unique experience of an old world market in a thoroughly modern city – Cinnamon Bazaar, part of the Cinnamon Collection of restaurants.
This club of restaurants, created by Vivek Singh, consists of the original Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen,Cinnamon Soho and now the latest addition, Cinnamon Bazaar, and with plans to extend the club out across London and into the South East.
Now I hate noise and distractions, and some inordinately busy restaurants with their flurries of excitement can be too overwhelming at times. Cinnamon bazaar was at capacity, but I was greeted in such a cordial manner by Andreas, the maître d’, that I immediately felt welcome and stress-free. It’s only when I am seated that I can truly absorb the ambience of my surroundings, brilliantly put together by LSM Design. The walls are adorned with colourful hand-painted graphics and vibrant patterned tiles, while luminescent lanterns hang from red drapes suspended from the ceiling. A vision truly bringing to mind the colourful alleyways synonymous with exotic bazaars.
Our cocktails, created for cinnamon Bazaar by the award-winning mixologist, Mr Lyan, were truly unique and offered welcome twists from the ordinary. I had the Makani Gin Fizz 9, a heavenly mix of Beefeater gin, cream, saffron tincture, almond, egg-white and soda, a deceptively alcoholic beverage. But there was no such subterfuge with the Bazaar Old Fashioned cocktail that the other half enjoyed, this was a particularly robust drink with coconut washed Indian Scotch, coconut sugar and burnt cinnamon ! I must note that non-alcoholic cocktails and lassis inspired by botanical concoctions are also available.
Giorgiana, our ebullient and knowledgeable waitress contributed to the unique appeal of the venue. We had, by now, realized that tonight was going to be very special, well above par from your average Indian restaurant . We eagerly commenced ordering our starters. I ordered Jodhpuri kachori chaat: spiced onion dumplings, curried white peas, with a chutney medley (v) 5.75. And what a medley of flavours this was too. Delectably delicious. The other half ordered Papdi chaat: crisp wheat, tangy tamarind, yogurt and chickpea vermicelli (v) 4.50. The mild flavours of this dish was perfectly enhanced by the seductive tartness of the tamarind. Giorgiana surprised us with two additional dishes, brought to us with the compliments of the chef. First we had Crab bonda: Calcutta spiced crab and beetroot in chickpea batter (gf) 5.90, a dish so good I would have ordered platters if I could, followed by the soothing silkiness of the Dahi bhalla chaat: chilled lentil dumplings, with spiced yogurt and toasted cumin (v/gf) 4.50.
An absolute taste bud bonanza. If I had to use one word to best characterise the starters, then I would select the word “fun”. They were fun to eat and great to share. I had not had this much fun eating in a long time.
Now to the more serious part of the evening, the mains! This is listed under Bazaar Plates, and what a myriad of dishes there were. I made a beeline for the Tandoori Kentish lamb fillet, mint chilli korma, masala cashew nut (n) 16. The meat was tender and the sauces utterly stimulating. I knew instinctively what the other half was going to order; the Double cooked pork belly ‘Koorg’ style, curried yogurt (gf) 7. This amazing dish was described by the other half as “absolutely delicious”! Now, I don’t usually enjoy fiery dishes like vindaloos, but Giorgiana wanted us to sample the Vindaloo of ox cheek masala mash, pickled radish (gf) 14.50. Let this be clear, this is not the sort of dish I would normally have chosen for myself, but I was totally blown away by this dish, not by the spiciness but by the ox cheek! The meat resembled mousse, with its buttery texture just dissolving on my tongue. It was even more tender and velvety than Wagu steak. The main dishes all come with vegetables and House black dal (v/gf) 4 compliments them well. All of this was brought into gastronomic harmony by the accompanying white wine, Malvaziya 2014 by Gasper Carman, named Slovenia’s Best Sommelier in 2015.
Finally pudding. If there was one slight dent in this culinary excellence, then it was the Dark chocolate and walnut cake (n) 5.75. I am to cakes what the Cookie Monster is to cookies, in fact, the Cookie Monster is my screen saver on my smartphone. So I command something outrageously special to be wowed which, unfortunately, the cake did not accomplish. The accompanying Malacca coffee ice cream, however, was fabulous. The other half loved the traditional Indian sweet Nankhatai (n) 2.20 accompanied by Indian Masala Chai tea 2.75. I would thoroughly recommend the ice cream or the traditional sweet.
In reflection over my night at Cinnamon Bazaar my verdict is this: if you don’t visit this truly taste inspiring place, then you are missing out on an unique uplifting experience, where the staff are vivacious and the food and ambience equally effervescent. I will be returning (often I hope) and with lots of my best friends!
Cinnamon Bazaar 28 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2N 7JS
Heart London 5 * Rating
Darren, Heart London