The Cinnamon Club

Was it the Colonel Mustar with the wrench in the library?

As I was perusing the cocktail menu while waiting for the Mr. to get to The Cinnamon Club for his birthday feast, Cluedo-themed flashbacks kept popping into my mind.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

And for good reasons, as Chef Vivek Singh’s flagship restaurant, an instution in the world of Indian fine dining, is set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Opened 15 years ago, The Cinnamon Club has a long history of serving innovative and creative Indian cuisine in a magnificently majestic setting.

And the restaurant’s bar is no exception and is an absolute heaven for book- and cocktail-lovers alike.

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Books all round, old London maps, beautiful, plush chairs in deep-blue, elegant charcoal and vibrant yellow shades…

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… and stunning cocktails to match!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Pisco Punch (turmeric-infused pisco, herbal liqueur, lemon juice, pineapple syrup & preserved pineapple)

Refreshing, tropical but not too sweet, it’s the perfect drink for the season!

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The Cinnamon Club’s signature cocktail, the Affinity (Mango infused Scotch whisky, sweet and dry vermouth, herbal liqueur, bitters) was an even bigger hit as it was perfectly mixed and just the right balance of strength and sweetness.

The perfect start to any celebration if you ask me!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Shortly after, we were led to our table in the restaurant’s main dining room.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

And what a stunning room it is indeed: massive, luxurious yet so restrained, it’s the perfect backdrop to highlight both the building’s stunning features and Chef Vivek’s incredible modern Indian cuisine.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

The perfect spot to get lost into a good book…

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…or, you know, a good menu!

Soon after, the table started getting covered in fragrant plates.

As soon as we finished one, another immediately appeared in its place.

Much like having dinner in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’s enchanted library, really.

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First things first, more cocktails and some Champagne!

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The amuse-bouche of the day, a cube of rice sponge (similar to South Indian Idli if only a bit more dry) with tomato chutney and other bits…

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Super moist & succulent Reshmi kebab of Norfolk free range chicken, with excellent yoghurt raita & coriander chutney.

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

But the star of the whole evening was the dish that made us book a table in the first place after tasting it earlier this year at Taste of London: the restaurant’s signature Smoked Herdwick lamb fillet and galouti kebab mille feuille.

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Layers of delicately spiced mince lamb meat, seared lamb fillet & velvety lamb kebab, with picked vegetables, raita & coriander chutney.

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An extremely technical dish, where every element was cooked to perfection and came together to form one of the best things we’ve eaten all year.

So good in fact that the Mr. said he couldn’t get a better version of that same dish anywhere in India (and he’s really demanding when it comes to kebabs, so that’s really saying something!)

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

There was also Black lentil Makhani dal, which was very nicely spiced if only a touch too ‘bit-ey’.

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Mopped up with sweet, soft Garlic naan (what else?)

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Tandoori breast of Anjou squab pigeon, tawa mince of legs, black stone flower reduction

Juicy, pink pigeon breast, strong, almost offal-y mince, served alongside a generous quenelle of velvety, spicy mash, it was a lovely combination that could only have been improved by a bit more of the aromatic sauce on the plate…

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Roast saddle of Romney Marsh lamb, corn sauce, pickled root vegetables, masala cashew nut

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An unexpected combination that worked wonders, carried by eye-rollingly good lamb (I actually did) and subtle spicing across the plate.

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Another shining example of The Cinnamon Club’s chefs way with lamb, and a beautiful combination with a glass of dry Bourgogne wine.

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Pudding came with a bit of flambé-ing tableside show…

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Baked Jalandhar, an Indian-inspired take on the classic Baked Alaska.

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With layers of thandai (a traditional drink combining almonds, fennel seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar), saffron and carrot halwa ice cream topped with spiced meringue and set on fire before your very own eyes!

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The ultimate exotic show-stopper of a pudding!

The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least, Green cardamom brulée with rose petal biscotti.

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Silky smooth, with a good cardamom taste and a thin layer of caramelised sugar on top, it was everything a good brulée should be.

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The birthday treat, complimentary Lassi panna cotta was also perfectly crafted.

Light, creamy & jiggle-y, it’s the perfect pudding for those times you wish you could manage pudding but aren’t sure you actually can.

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Encouraged by the attentive and truly hospitable team, we linguered over chocolate truffle petits fours (and a sneaky little glass of sticky Pedro Ximenez) until late in the night.

Chatting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

The very best way to celebrate your nearest & dearest special day, and I cannot recommend The Cinnamon Club enough, especially for a special occasion.

It is not cheap, but considering the quality of the food, the drinks and the service, as well as the stunning venue and felted atmosphere, it’s well worth it and I garantee you’ll leave feeling like a Maharajah!

The Cinnamon Club, The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BU

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The Cinnamon Club | Cake + Whisky

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The Cinnamon Club

Chakra on Holland Street

I definitely don’t spend enough time in West London.

I do love the East, its dirty-around-the-edges look and ever-changing, pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar restaurant scene.

But the truth is, the West, with its pretty brick-and-white houses, its shiny stores and oh-very-civilised restaurants (no queueing over here, they ALL take reservation!), could very easily steal my heart if I were to spend more time on the other side of the city.

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And I won’t lie, one of the top reasons would be the proximity to Chakra, an upscale Indian restaurant with a neighbourhood feel, recently relocated from Notting Hill onto Holland Street.

Chakra on Holland Street | Cake + Whisky

Located on a quiet corner just off the hustle and bustle of Kensington High Street, with pastel-painted walls and attentive service, Chakra is quite an intimate spot.

Perfect for a middle-of-the-week date night!

Chakra on Holland Street | Cake + Whisky

Which also explains why we refrained from ordering the entire list of Indian-inspired cocktails and settled for lemonade instead (plain for me & Masala for him).

… but when it came to food, we weren’t quite as reasonable…

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Poppadums with tamarind chutney.

Always a good way to start a meal!

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Crab Galouti with Saffron & Nutmeg Potted Shrimp and Blue Corn Roti

Beautiful, melt-in-the-mouth crab patties, with a slight crispy pan-fried exterior and a fiery green chilli kick, the crab galouti was a wonderful, summery interpretation of the traditional Uttar Pradesh lamb kebab.

I would happily have eaten it all by myself, but that would have been a bit shellfish

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Plus it would have limited my claims on the delicately-spiced Tandoori Paneer with Basil & Mint Chutney

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For mains, we shared the Clay Oven Cooked Black Cod with Green Chilli & Garlic Yoghurt

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… as well as the Tandoori Poussin, Red Onion, Lemon.

Chakra on Holland Street | Cake + Whisky

Both were beautifully spiced and cooked to perfection and a great hommage to the quality of the cooking at Chakra.

Trust me, when it comes to Indian food, that’s not something you can wing!

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With a side of Okra, Red Onions, Chilli & Lime (that my boyfriend said tasted almost the same as the way his mum cooks them)…

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… and a rather extensive selection of bread to mop every little bit of marinade off the plates, the whole lot made for a stunning Indian feast, representative of the diversity of food across the Indian subcontinent and worthy of the Royal Maharajah kitchens Chakra takes its inspiration in.

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And for dessert, we had caviar.

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Gulab Jamun Caviar, that is, served with Pistachio Toast and Cardamom Creme.

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A playful take on the Russian classic, and a beautiful one at that!

With barely enough room for Chai, we said our goodbyes and on the way home, we were already discussing making our way West for another Indian feast soon.

The ultimate proof that the food at Chakra is very, very good indeed! Probably a naan out of ten!

 

Chakra, 33c Holland Street, Kensington, London W8 4LX

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Chakra on Holland Street | Cake + Whisky

Chakra on Holland Street

Restaurant Le 5, Saint Malo

As you might have gathered by now, food in Saint Malo was truly spectacular.

There was Michelin-stared lobsters, Michelin-worthy lemon tarts, and a loooooot of salted caramel.

But dinner at Restaurant Le 5 was truly quite magical.

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Restaurant Le 5 is a bit of a locals’ secret and can only be accessed via the lobby of Hotel de France Le Chateaubriand (where we stayed).

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Which is the perfect excuse to take a peak at the hotel’s charming Colonial-meets-retro lobby and stunning dining rooms on your way up!

And before you know it, you’re on top of the world (or at least, Saint Malo!)!

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A classy nautical theme runs through the restaurant.

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With stunning, 360° views to match!

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And a seasonal, fine dining set menu worthy of the very best restaurants!

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For starters, foie gras was the most popular option.

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Served with pickled baby vegetables and red onion relish, it was the perfect balance of creamy, crunchy, tangy and sweet and absolutely dreamy!

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Vegetarians weren’t quite as lucky though…

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Despite their starter looking absolutely stunning, it was very much just a plate of tomatoes.

Ruby red, adorable on-the-vine cherry tomatoes, but tomatoes all the same.

For fish- & meat-eaters though, things kept getting better and better with mains.

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Yellow pollack fillet, Espelette pepper, fennel panna cotta & yuzu foam

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A vibrant fish dish and one of the best things I’ve eaten sofar this year.

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All washed down with a few too many glasses of crisp Chardonnay…

And topped off with a choice-ditcher’s dream dessert: Café Gourmand.

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AKA a cup of espresso, surrounded by a selection of mini-desserts.

Friand, canelé, macaron… we got all the classics and then some!

 

Panoramic views over Saint Malo, stunning food and even better pudding, Restaurant Le 5 has it all. Perfect for a romantic date or to celebrate something special!

More info + bookings here

Restaurant Le 512, Place Chateaubriand, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

Restaurant Le 5, Saint Malo