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|Address:||5 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PF|
|Tel:||020 7437 1664|
|Price: £36.00||Wine: £16.00||Champagne: £48.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-11pm|
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Two people must have been behind the launch of Cinnamon Soho. One of them did the food and beverage, and he/she deserves a slap on the back, a hearty hug – maybe even a knighthood. The other one took care of the design and build, and the fixtures and fittings. They should be strapped to the roof of one of those awful rickshaws, covered in breadcrumbs and be driven round Soho Square til pigeons pick them to death. Never can there have been a restaurant where there’s such a gulf between the quality of the food and the quality of the room.
The menu is witty and inventive (roganjosh shepherd’s pie, vindaloo of ox cheek) and confidently mixes small plates, large plates, main courses and sides. Food is massively flavoursome and hugely enjoyable for it; lick-the-plate good. The cooking is skilful rather than highly refined and there are no flashes of technical brilliance, but it surely achieves everything it sets out to do. Especially impressive was the determination to advance modern British-Indian food; for example the chef parked his tank on bruschetta’s lawn with a wonderful cumin- and coriander-crusted mushrooms on toast. The wine list is long, well-priced and smartly chosen (lots of Riesling, Gewurz and a fun Chenin-Torrontes). Every Indian restaurant in the country should be like this.
In contrast, the room design must have been created by an MBA graduate in Market Harborough who phoned it in. I’ve been in more welcoming branches of Claire’s Accessories. Grey concrete abounds, there’s no trace of the ethnic heritage from which the menu proudly benefits, and the harsh lighting scheme serves only to spotlight the toilet door. Particularly heinous was the choice of music, which may well have been drawn from Now That’s What I Call Music 93: endless Katy Perry and the kind of tinny, thumpy pop you hear at your local Body Pump class.
Service was strong – I hate it when staff say “was everything ok?” while staring off soullessly into the middle distance; here, they make eye contact and ask the question with a big smile because they know the food's bloody good. However service was hard to come by because they perpetuate the waiter/busboy system, which is mad given the size of the place.
I’d struggle to go back with clients or indeed anyone I wanted to impress and, given how much fun the food was, that’s a crying shame. On reflection, whoever did the design and build… death is too good for them: they should have to stand on Oxford Street holding a ‘Golf Sale’ sign in the pouring rain while tourists tread on their toes for the next 20 years.