Cinnamon Bazaar is the latest attempt from the Cinnamon club juggernaut to take on the casual dining market populated by the likes of Dishoom and Talli Joe. It has taken over the old site of La Perla in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. The first thing that strikes you are the beautiful pink and green drapes hanging from the ceiling as well as eye-pleasing hanging baskets. There are also plenty of pink and green in the seating areas.
The food is just as colourful and vibrant as the decor. What caught our attention straight away were the Chaats section. They are typical savoury snacks you would find on roadside food stalls and carts in India or Pakistan. In this section, they are all vegetarian friendly and they have a fantastic moveable chaat cart to help you personalise your options.
We tried the aloo tikki chaat and jodhpuri kachori chaat, which were spiced potato cake and spiced onion dumplings respectively. Curried white peas were present in both dishes and added substance and the main flavours to the dish. White peas are also tremendously healthy for you with high amounts of minerals like iron. Chickpea sev and pomogranates added textural variety to the dishes. We also enjoyed a plate of Chana masala hummus, which was finely grounded and accompanied by crispy nimki (fried bread), which were fenugreek scented.
The expected flavour explosions definitely arrived by the time, we moved onto the larger plates. Kolkata spiced cod was extremely pungent (not recommended if you are dining with friends with ichthyophobia). There was a kick from the mustard and sweetness from the caramel puffed rice. Kabuli kofta, which looked like meatballs were in fact chickpea, spinach and dried fruits. You will occasionally experience burst of sweetness when one of the dried fruits hit your palate.
By far the best dish was the vindaloo of ox cheek. It has been so slowly cooked that the meat readily melts in your mouth and each bite is packed with flavour. Whilst the curry taste is strong, it doesn’t cover up and overpower the taste of the meat. With masala mash to soak up the curry flavours, you really can’t go wrong with this dish.
We had just about enough room to share a dessert of carrot halwa roll. It has 2 kinds of carrots covered in a crispy filo pastry. The accompanying ice cream is normally an afterthought, but the clove flavoured iced double cream had such a uniquely aromatic and sweet taste to it. It was the perfect foil for the main attraction.
With such an easygoing, well thought out concept, expect more Cinnamon Bazaars to be popping up around your neighbourhood soon. Until then, make sure you visit this branch in Covent Garden.