We often find ourselves wishing for winter in summer, and wishing for summer in winter. Yet, hot, barmy summer evenings, where cocktails keep hands heavy and laughter bounces from rooftop terrace to rooftop terrace is why these golden, sun-hued moments are what we really live for.
One such moment happened for me a week or so ago, when the height of summer made the tubes hot, but Londoners still smiled with the prospect of that cool glass of white wine at their local dive. Myself? I was heading to Cinnamon Kitchen, the City outpost, who had just blanketed themselves with a new tropical terrace and menu, in celebration of their 10th anniversary.
To keep a restaurant favoured and ever-evolving in London’s busy, industrious restaurant scene is a hardship. But Chef Vivek Singh had done just that. The Indian restaurant, which has further outposts in Battersea Power Station and Oxford Westgate Shopping Centre, had an air of newness about it. The restaurant is snug inside the heart of corporate London, in Devonshire Square, existing as a restaurant for those in the know.
The terrace was steeped in patterned fairy lights, bold-coloured cushions and long banquettes shrouded by overhanging foliage and leaves. It made for an idyllic spot to enjoy a fresh mint tea post-meal, which is exactly what I did, and despite never having visited India, I could image this to be not too far removed from a cosy oasis, wrapped up in kaleidoscopic colours.
Greeted by waiting staff who looked just as elated as the guests raising glasses, we were seated inside to eat, in a light and airy restaurant that seemed casual whilst sophisticated. Proceedings began with pistachio and cinnamon bellinis, two unique blends that played delightfully on the palette. We sipped our cocktails, whilst taking in the sights of the eponymous kitchen in the corner. Gastronomic theatrics definitely lend to the restaurant’s playful atmosphere.
As the waft of delightful Indian delights flirted with the senses, we were sucked into the flavour popping menu, which featured the likes of firecracker chicken wings and masala popcorn followed by muzzeh. We went all in, and feasted on Singh’s new creations, choosing the paneer, chicken and cheese naan, mutton curry, Tanjore style king prawns and black lentils. There’s also the thrill of the grill, sautéed with tandoori Barnsley lamb chops; banana leaf-wrapped seabass.
The dish of the day for me was the Tanjore style king prawns, offering big flavours and really flaunting the expertise of Singh’s cooking. The chicken and cheese naan, too, was a fantastic way to begin any meal.
As previously mentioned, tea and desserts of saffron poached pear and ginger toffee pudding, were enjoyed terrace-side on a warm summer night, as we lounged back and found it hard, after a hearty meal, to pull ourselves up again to head home.