So many restaurants open with a bang. Lights, media, action. Then five minutes later they close again, or, worse, end up lumped with a glitzy and glamorous fit-out that features no substance. Others, like the Cinnamon Club, start in a manner that is as humble as the food.
In their very own 100-foot journey, the Cinnamon Club recently packed up their diminutive, slightly cramped and fluorescently-lit side-street eatery in Norwood and crossed The Parade to a prime corner position.
Adopting the previous fit out, they’ve infused their own creative flavour through brightly coloured paintings on the walls and have still managed to keep warmth in the venue despite its huge dining space.
Now we need to discuss the elephant in the room. That is, the eight-foot high mural of the Hindu God Ganesh adorning an entire wall, with his bright pink trunk pointed purposefully toward the kitchen door. This is where the magic happens.
It is a cliché to say that variety is the spice of life but this is certainly the case with the Cinnamon Club menu, with the kitchen fusing together cultures through cooking. Resisting temptation to order old faithfuls, our eyes are drawn to the weird – and wonderful – sounding dishes from across the sub-continent. With 15 different types of bread and over 200 dishes listed it is very clear that a culinary adventure awaits.
Nawaabi mushrooms are stuffed with paneer and cheese, marinated in spice and basted in the tandoor oven. Served with a side of minted yogurt, these are earthy with a good hit of spice in a filling that resembles curried egg. The mushrooms sit on a bed of crudités and greens for added crunch and freshness to cut through the heat.
Anjeeri duck is cooked in a smoky fig marinade that infuses sweet spiciness into the meat. This special dish hails from the Malvani region of West India. The sauce is light and flavoursome and the duck falls of the bone. A side of potato bharta complements the dish nicely.
Behtareen chukandar gosht is a lamb dish cooked in beetroot sauce – strange sounding but delicious. Almost pink in colour with the texture of borscht, this is bursting with a savoury meaty flavour and is perfect when heaped onto crispy naan bread and topped with a little raita. Keema pav is a bowl of spicy mince, served with a lightly crisp paper-thin roti. This is plated with red onion, supposedly pickled, but raw tasting.
Ignoring this, the dish is simply excellent, balanced with a powerful punch that tapers at just the right point.
The Cinnamon Club has lightened things up with brightness, colour and, most importantly, flavour. Lovely service adds to the experience and you can just tell the team are passionate about re fined, traditional hospitality. They really do demonstrate that food blends cultures and allows us to have just a little peek into someone else’s life, if only for just one meal.
221(a) The Parade
Monday, dinner only Tuesday to Sunday 12pm-late 8431 3311
Photography: Jonathan van der Knaap