The team behind Cinnamon Soho is led by chef Vivek Singh who has earned praise from his award-winning Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen. The look of the new Soho venture – the monochrome of grey to contrast with wooden furniture – did not cry for the same quirkiness as the other Cinnamon’s and verged on being too generic.
The menu, divided into all-day bites, balls, and the usual fare of ‘starters’, ‘mains’, ‘sides’ and ‘desserts’, was reminiscent of modern Indian fare that chef Singh is renowned for. The balls (any 4 for £4 or 10 for £8.80) were enjoyable snacks. Beef Shammi Kebab (the dark one in the front) had a good balance of spices and oozed delectable heat. It went nicely with the cooling mint chutney, while given the size of the ball, I found the cucumber yogurt irrelevant. The same could be said for Potato Bondas (the middle one) which claimed a pungent turmeric note and a crispy chickpea skin. I found the ball self-sufficient and discarded the grated coconut chutney (which tasted rather watery). Bangla Scotch Eggs (the two in the back) were the better of the bunch. These were spiced and hard-boiled quail eggs coated with light Bengali vegetable patty (instead of a meat casing), crumbed (could do with some more) and fried. Bold. Velvety. The mango chutney (I think) played a decent mediator (but again I had to be careful not to drown the taste of the scotch egg out with excessive saucing). Haleem with Saffron Pau (£4.80) was a multi-grain-infused soup with beef cubes. (I asked what the haleem was before ordering and the staff had to run and find out the answer). I liked the airy pau (bread). Bheja Fry Lamb Brain (£6.50) was a well composed dish, served with a mince curry. The brain fritters were grease-less and creamy; the curry (made from garam masala, I believe) boast some balanced heat. Shepherd’s Pie (£12) was a modern take on lamb rogan josh. It had some proper chilli kicks, with fragrant coriander and cumin seeds and sweet acidity from tomatoes to add dimensions; the chunks of lamb were also cooked to delightful tenderness; the tumeric mash appeased the palate. Aubergine Crush (£3) was a good bargain. Mild heat from mushy aubergines; sweetness from peas; and some lime tang.
I had a pleasant, modern, yet authentic meal at Cinnamon Soho. The kitchen has a good potential. That said, the food was let down by the service, which was a cross between nonchalance and forced friendliness. The staff was not enthusiastic or extremely well prepared to answer questions about the menu, and at times, lacked effectiveness (clearing plates swiftly, etc.) which was crucial during lunch hours. There was a noticeable gap between the ordering time and the arrival of my dishes despite the fact that it was an early lunch hour. That said, Cinnamon Soho has only been opened for two weeks and I hope these creases will soon be ironed out.
5 Kingly Street
Tel. 020 7437 1664