5 Kingly Street
© Alys Tomlinson
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Thu Apr 5 2012
For the last couple of years the West End has been going through a ‘small plates’ phase. The faux French seem to spend their vacances in London making petits plats (at Terroirs); the Italians have also been beating a retreat from big portions sizes (Bocca di Lupo, Polpo). With Spanish-inspired places (Dehesa, Opera Tavern, Copita) tapas-sized dishes make a lot of sense. But when even a New York-style Jewish deli (Mishkin’s) is downsizing (small plates, oy vey! What would bubbeh make of it?), maybe it’s a shrink too far.
So do Indian ‘small plates’ work? In India it’s tiffin time all the time, but London has been slow to catch on. We’ve seen precedents – Imli, a spin-off from high-end Tamarind, has been doing small plates for years, and places such as Masala Zone and Dishoom allow you to order snack-sized dishes, but the new Cinnamon Soho is quite a surprise if you’re expecting curry house portion sizes.
Our waiter didn’t warn us that the main courses were the size of side dishes, or that the desserts resembled petits fours. So I’m warning you now – order plenty of dishes if you’re hungry, because everything we tried was delicious, and we were left craving more.
Executive chef Vivek Singh has balls. Crab-cake balls, tiny potato bondas, moist beef shami kebab, even tiny scotch quail eggs, all perfectly moist and marble-sized. These were encased in different batters, each served on delectable chutneys; a sensational starter, and one of the best dishes we’ve eaten this year. This dish is proof – as if more were needed – that Indian cooking and European presentation can be a blissful marriage.
The all-day snacks were also fresh and well-made. The nibbles called mathri on this menu are like the Rajasthani snack called namak pare – crisp-fried wheat discs kneaded with ghee, flavoured with carom seed, served in this instance with a slightly over puréed aubergine dip, it’s served as a tea-time snack in north India.
Singh’s menu is highly innovative, as you’d expect from the chef behind the celebrated Cinnamon Club. A classic north Indian curry of karela chana – bitter gourd with chana dahl lentils – is topped with stuffed dudhi (an Indian marrow). This long gourd was scooped out and carefully repacked with lightly pickled, beetroot-coloured vegetable batons; ingenious. A puff pastry pie lid topped a seafood mixture based on Keralite fish moilee curry; it tasted of white onion, curry leaves and coconut milk.
More balls for dessert. The sweets included beautiful petits fours of frozen dark chocolate and chilli golis (‘goli’ are small balls), and white chocolate and cardamom – both wonderful blends of East and West. Carrot halwa matched with cinnamon ice cream also shows that Singh is a master of flavour.
What holds Cinnamon Soho back from greatness isn’t the cooking, which is excellent; it’s the location, a dark ground floor and basement on Kingly Street, an area which still has a lot of upping and coming to do. The service on our visit was slow and not well-informed. Our waiter could have upsold us a lot more dishes if he’d warned us the portions were small for the price. But if tiffin’s your thing, Cinnamon Soho spices up tea-time.
Accepts Time Out CardSee great offers available to all the Time Out Card holders
£10 for a cocktail and 10 balls
Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
This offer can be redeemed on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat between 10pm and midnight.
2 courses & a Mango Kick Cocktail: £16
Get 2 course set menu for £16, 3 courses and a mango kick cocktail £19. Offer applies to Set Menu. From 1st May. Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.
Offer valid until May 31 2013
Cinnamon Soho 5 Kingly Street
020 7437 1664
- Opening hours:
Meals served 11am-11pm Mon-Sat; 11.30am-4pm Sun
Tube: Oxford Circus or Picadilly Circus tube
Main courses £12-£17. Set meal (lunch, 5-7pm) £15 2 courses, £18 3 courses. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £70
- 5 Kingly Street
- 020 7437 1664
- 5 Kingly Street
- Cinnamon Soho
Food and drink
Restaurant and bar facilities. Reservations required. Accessible facilities. General facilities. Available for hire. Outdoor facilities. Tables outdoors
Eating out. Creative cooking
- Type of event: