Having had an excellent vegetarian meal at sister restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen recently, Cinnamon Soho seemed a good choice when my sister and I were looking for somewhere nice to take our pescetarian mum for a celebratory meal.
We needed somewhere that would cater for a late lunch, and were pleased that Cinnamon Soho offer a (newish) Sunday brunch menu that runs into the afternoon. We arrived at 3, knowing that last orders to the kitchen are at 4. We were not at all rushed, and left almost two hours later.
The restaurant is located at the Western edge of Soho, close to Carnaby Street and Liberty. A handy location for a nice day out but the pavements and shops are somewhat overrun with tourists at the moment!
The Sunday brunch set menu is really good value at £20 for two courses and £24 for three, though you could describe it as three / four courses, since you also choose a side dish alongside your main.
As there were 6 starters and 6 mains and we were a group of five, we were able to taste most of the menu. For our sides, we did likewise.
Cumin and coriander crusted mushroom on toast with fried egg may not have looked particularly elegant on the plate but tasted great.
The tandoori chicken and chilli Delhi sandwich was excellent, with great texture and taste contrasts.
The grilled fat chilli with paneer was another winner, with soft cubes of stir fried paneer stuffed into a sweet chilli. Beautiful on plate and palate.
The Coorgi pork stir fry was another of the favourites, and something quite new for us in terms of Indian cuisine. Soft, fatty pork that reminded us of Chinese flavours yet had a distinctly Indian spicing.
Upma is a South Indian breakfast dish usually made with semolina or rice. But the quinoa & curry leaf ‘upma’, coconut chutney version, substituting the quinoa seeds, worked well. The flavours were right, and the presentation pretty.
We also ended up with a chilli chicken dish which was accidentally served instead of the chilli and paneer. They immediately suggested we keep it whilst waiting for the missing dish. Another good dish with lots of flavour.
We skipped curried cullen skink, the 6th starter on the menu.
Our mains didn’t disappoint either.
The stir fried baby aubergine in Chettinad spices, pilau rice were small, tender and beautifully spiced, and served over a rich sauce.
The marrow steak with bitter gourd and lentil sauce was an unusual dish but a particular favourite of mum’s. The thick slices of courgette worked well over the bitter gourd and lentil stir fry beneath and the green leaves gave a nice freshness.
The seared sea bass fillet with aubergine-potato crush was pleasant, though our taste buds were hit hard by some very fiery green chillis in the herb and pea sauce. We liked the mustard flavour in the aubergine and potato mash.
I’m not usually a fan of khichri, which is a much plainer affair in North India, often served when you’re poorly or have an upset stomach. However the rich buttery version in the hot-sweet shrimp ‘kichri’ was a completely different dish and I liked it very much.
My favourite, out of a strong selection, was the Hyderabadi style Cumbrian mountain lamb biryani. The lamb was soft, the rice perfectly cooked and there was a fabulous smoky flavour throughout. Really loved this and would come back for this alone, although there’s much on the menu I enjoyed.
We skipped Syrian chicken ‘ishtew’ with south Indian rice pancake, the other available main.
With the mains were served our chosen sides.
The tandoor roasted aubergine crush was somewhat like mum’s aubergine mush, as we call it and a tasty side dish.
The black lentils were good; not the best I’ve had but decent.
The masala mash was one of the few items none of us thought much of. Bland, a bit dry and not very appealing.
We ordered two bread sides, a potato paratha, which was the second poor show and a garlic naan, which was excellent.
We added 2 more plain naans to our order during the meal, also excellent.
We were so full that we only two of us ordered desserts, with extra spoons for the others, of course.
Lassi panna cotta with tamarind glazed strawberries was not popular. The tart tangy flavour of yoghurt didn’t work well in this format and was not offset by enough sweetness, either in the panna cotta mix or the accompanying strawberries. Really not pleasant at all.
Luckily, the date pancake with ginger ice cream was excellent. Two thin filo pastry triangles filled with a thin layer of sticky sweet dates, and a lovely ginger ice cream that was not overly sweet. The biscuit that came with the dish wasn’t great, but the key components were excellent.
So, overall, the food was excellent with just a few misses amongst a lot of hits.
Service wasn’t poor – the staff were friendly and available – but it wasn’t great either, I found it rather inconsistent. It seems to be a weakness with the group, judging by my recent review visit to Cinnamon Kitchen and I wonder if they need to give recruitment and training of staff a little more attention.
That said, I’d definitely return here, especially for this Sunday brunch deal, which is really great value.