Review: Cinnamon Kitchen

Cinnamon Kitchen was one of the first restaurants to open in the new Westgate on the rooftop terrace, serving up creative modern-Indian dishes in an elegant setting. I’d spied the menu before they opened and there are plenty of veggie-friendly dishes featured, but I wasn’t sure that they were particularly vegan-friendly, with dairy seemingly featuring heavily. I was happy this weekend however to be proved wrong, when me and Jamie were invited to see exactly what they had to offer.

I was expecting that the chefs would just be adapting some of their existing options on the menu, so was pleasantly surprised when we were presented with a separate vegan menu consisting of a couple of choices for each course, many of which were new thoughtful additions not currently featured on the main menu.

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We were intrigued by the pre-starter on the menu, chutney potatoes in a semolina shell, served with a mint water. Two little egg-shaped shells were served in a bowl, with a jug of tangy green sauce on the side. The waiter explained to pour the sauce over the potato filling through the small hole in the shell and quickly eat it all in one go. It reminded me of something you’d see on Masterchef (and that right there should tell you all you need to know about my level of food expertise haha). It tasted good and was a fun little appetiser, though the price of the dish wasn’t on the menu and now I’ve had the experience once I might not be too fussed to order it again. Still, it is actually great to have a vegan alternative for every single course the restaurant offers meat-eaters and veggies, meaning if everyone else is ordering a pre-starter, then you definitely should too – no missing out here!

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To start, I ordered grilled aubergine, topped with sesame, tamarind and peanut crumb. For anyone who has read a few of my blog posts, you probably know by now that aubergine features quite often recently, and I’m a big fan. It’s certainly one of my favourite things to eat as a starter, and this dish didn’t disappoint. The skin was lovely and char-grilled, the flesh melted in the mouth, but the topping added a nice crunch. The sesame and peanut crumb was quite subtle but all of the flavours came together wonderfully, particularly with a burst of sweetness from the sweet mango on the side. It was served with a zingy dressed salad with pomegranate. All in all a very satisfying starter.

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Jamie opted for a char-grilled fruit chaat, served in little gem lettuce cups. The fruit was a mixture of diced watermelon, mango, pineapple, and pomegranate, topped with green chutney. Again, the serving size was generous, and they’d obviously thought about the fact that it was just fruit and salad so needed a little more on the plate to make a substantial dish (so many places seem not to worry about that, delivering small dishes that feel lacking). I tried a couple of bites of Jamie’s starter which was really refreshing, and aromatic at the same time thanks to the cumin and fennel seeds.

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For the main course, I’d ordered Tandoori Mushrooms in a green mango and coriander sauce, served with some steamed rice and a few pieces of broccoli. The plate was pretty different from the standard Indian meal I’ve previously dined out at, with a modest serving of each of the elements, all presented neatly on the plate – no mound of rice and overly greasy sauce here. The mushrooms were possibly the nicest I’ve ever eaten. They were only lightly cooked, so still firm, yet full of flavour and incredibly garlicky. The rice was nicely cooked and the broccoli still had bite to it, rather than the overcooked soggy mess the vegetable can sometimes end up as.

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Jamie ordered the garlic tempered green pea kichri, a dal-like dish made of lentils and rice, topped with a broccoli and cauliflower pickle. The filling bowl was warm and comforting, and the topping including crispy onions, peppers, and potato, added a welcome element of texture to the otherwise soupy dish. It was something different from anything Jamie would ever usually order, but he said he really enjoyed it.

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Alongside our main plates, we ordered a side of chickpea curry, and some roti. The bread was freshly baked, soft and sweet, and so delicious when topped with the chickpeas. This curry was slightly milder than the mains, aromatic, and quite salty compared to the rest of the food too, which balanced out the meal nicely. Throughout all of our dishes, I would say the spice was medium – you could definitely feel the heat but it wasn’t overwhelming, just bringing out all of those wonderful flavours.

We were so full from the feast we’d already eaten, but between us we managed to make room for a dessert to share. The Cinnamon Kitchen chefs had gone above and beyond with creating this menu, and the pudding happily wasn’t an exception. Saffron poached pear, stuffed with dried fruits and served with a strawberry sorbet and tangy coulis, sounded delicious, and that real thought had again gone into this dish. We chopped the beautifully cooked pear in half and dried apricots, sultanas, and desiccated coconut spilled out onto the plate. The filling almost had a marzipan flavour to it which I really loved. The pear itself as delicately spiced, fragrant, but not too sweet. A really lovely way to round off a beautiful meal.

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All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Cinnamon Kitchen, and left satisfied in every sense – flavours were great, food was nicely presented but still filling, service was excellent (if anything the staff were almost *too* attentive, but there weren’t that many diners in the restaurant and it was good to see they were truly interested in making sure everyone was having a good experience). I would definitely recommend visiting for a special occasion. My main point to take note of would be that it’s quite pricey to eat here, so if you’re a student on a budget, this is probably one to save for graduation, or a special birthday. That said, if you come at lunch time there is a deal for two courses for Β£18 or three for Β£21, and I think it’s definitely worth it for what you get.

If you’re hoping to see the vegan menu, it’s not on their website sadly, but I was assured that if you get in touch with the restaurant to book in advance they’ll be able to offer you and arrange vegan options for all courses as we experienced this weekend.

 

We received our meal on the house but this blog is a true representation of the experience.

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