There is something so comforting about pouring tea from a teapot. Unfortunately due to our busy lifestyles the ritual of teapot tea making is slowly disappearing. Instead we’re forced to make and drink our brew from the one-stop-shop mug. Hence my love for afternoon tea, where you’re able to indulge in the tradition of brewing your tea properly. So to feed my love for all things tea, this Diwali we headed to the hustle and bustle of Soho with the girls for some high chai action.
Yes, you read right. And no, you haven’t been transported to the days of the Raj. This is high chai London style! Cinnamon Soho combine two of my favourite things – afternoon tea and Indian food. It’s the third restaurant from Vivek Singh of Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen
Compared to his other eateries this venture is more cafe-esque in style, wooden chairs, colourful walls and menus on clipboards.
The menu takes a contemporary Indian twist on some British favourites. My mouth was salivating at the words on the menu, I couldn’t wait to order. We went straight in for the tea for two at £25 with Indian masala chai. Although my eager anticipation was quashed as I watched the tea being poured.
The flavour matched the look. Weak and milky. It had the taste of boiled teabags with a distinct lack of fresh ginger and cardamom. I was geared up for some just-like-mummiji-used-to-make authenticity, so in my disappointment I sent it back. The waiter immediately apologised and offered to make me a fresh pot. I didn’t want to risk it, so ordered a pot of Assam instead. Thankfully that tasted exactly as it should.
Fear set in for the rest of my order. This was quickly set aside when the girls food arrived, it looked as it tasted too. This time very delicious. The girls’ went for the junior menu on offer for £8 which included Bombay potato bonda, a curry leaf and chilli mash in chickpea batter.
It wasn’t too hot and ‘very, very tasty’ in the words of Radha. Her only request being she wished there had been more.
Spinach dumpling in a tomato and fenugreek sauce followed. This looked and smelt so tasty that I had to ask for a little nibble. The dumpling was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Again the spices were just right for their little palettes. If your little ones are the carnivorous type there is also an option of tandoori chicken malai tikka.
Finally after eyeballing my kids’ food for quite some time the high chai arrived. It was impressive looking and we were starving. Our plate also contained the Bombay potato bonda, accompanied with a lovely spicy green chutney. The Hyderabadi caramelised onions and mint samosa came boasted buttery pasty and the filling was delicious. Our high chai came with two vegetarian alternatives, firstly a paneer naan pizza. The fluffy base was topped with tiny juicy cubes of paneer joy.
And my favourite savoury item went to the Bengali beetroot burger, which made a welcome change to the bean or portobello mushroom burgers I regularly consume. The spicing in the beetroot patty was on point and the oozy cheese topped it off perfectly.
The high chai would usually come with a tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich and bhangra lamb slider.
We wasted no time in moving swiftly on to the sweet treats, which cooed ‘Eat me’ as soon as they landed on my table. They included a piece of Malabar plum cake, which resembled a bitesize sticky toffee pudding. It was so good that being bitesize was just cruel, I needed the whole cake. The bitter chocolate tartlet with dates and ginger was probably my least favourite. It was very chocolatey but with no hint of ginger really. I deftly swerved that one over to Mr S.
You know those high school movies where Plain Jane is basically a Disney Princess in disguise and somehow ends up prom queen? Well top prize went to this rather unassuming spiced scone with apple and fennel chutney. The crumbly, soft melt in your mouth scone was peppered with assorted indian herbs and caraway seeds. For once in my life I didn’t miss the clotted cream. The sweet, textured chutney did a splendid job of complimenting the scone very well.
The girls ended their spice fest with a scoop of saffron and strawberry smoothie homemade ice-cream, included in the junior meal.
I have to admit the initial chai blunder was a real let down – after all we were there for an afternoon tea. I wish I’d gone for the cinnamon bellini instead for an extra £5. However, they did deal with the complaint really well and the food that followed totally impressed my tastebuds.
Cinnamon Soho certainly offers an afternoon tea with a difference. For only £12.50 considering the central London, it’s great value for money. I think it’s the perfect spot to refuel after shopping or for a pre theatre treat.
Where is your favourite afternoon tea? Let me know in the comments box below.
Cinnamon Soho | 5 Kingly Street | London | W1B 5PF
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