And so to Westminster politicos’ favourite Indian restaurant, The Cinnamon Club, just off the main parliamentary drag. Housed in an old library, paying homage to the absorption of weighty literature. Alas tonight its the weekend so the chances of spotting Mandlesons and Milibands plotting the downfall of Comrade Corbyn are minimal.
Starting in the dark and sober cocktail lounge, Whiskey sours and White ladies are swiftly followed by lethal Gibsons before we enter the grand dining room. A fusion of olde austere library and contemporary restaurant (recently given a megabucks revamp). Impressive. I don’t often go A-list for Indian cuisine, but when I have its always a reminder of how far from the high road curry house we have travelled. Spice is subtle, especially here.
Starters are a Chaat of crisp spinach, potato skins and dried beetroot, Bengali style lobster thermidor and smoked lamb escalope and galouti kebab mille feuille. The Chaat is a nice surprise for this dedicated carnivore, the lobster is luxurious (though pricy) but the lamb ensemble is the star of the first round. A little sculpture of savoury mille feuille, a restrained level of smoke for the escalope and a bijoux lamb kebab.
Cinnamon Club has a tradition of interesting game dishes so I chose the Tandoori loin of red deer, black stone flower reduction and fenugreek potatoes, my wife the Roast saddle of Romney Marsh lamb and corn sauce with pickled root vegetables. The deer is effortlessly tender, full flavoured with pleasuring hints of the tandoor, the lamb is uber-tender, offset in richness with the pickled veg. A basket of hot breads arrives for dipping.
Desserts for me are often an afterthought but we chose a platter including a dark chocolate and rasgolla tart, baked Jalandhar, spiced pumpkin and corn cake and a cardomom creme brulee. The wine list is long and gets expensive, service is exceptional, as you would expect.
So why do I feel slightly underwhelmed? Compared with Veeraswamy, are we lacking a little theatre? Matched against Tamarind’s Michelin star, is the dining (bar the red deer) as inter-stellar? For hot breads, it’s possible Dishoom wins, in a far more streety-foody kind of way? On reflection, considering Cinnamon Club’s estimable reputation, yes is probably the answer. Be interesting to see it on a plot-heavy Westminster weekday though.
The Cinnamon Club
The Old Westminster Library
30-32 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU
020 7222 2555