Isleworth’s local Indian restaurant
Travelling in from Twickenham station on a chilly November evening, I arrive at Cinnamon Lounge just before evening opening time.
Chef- Patron Shameem Ahmed shares his journey from training at India’s famed Oberoi Hotel Group to owning and heading Cinnamon Lounge. Multi-award winning Chef Shameem is well known in the industry and is professionally trained with a degree in Hotel Management. Before venturing out on his own he has successfully headed at popular restaurants in Richmond and Brentford.
The whole restaurant has a very festive vibe going with the Christmas decorations up. As I settle in, being greeted by a very cheery member of their team, I decided to sample the Virgin Pinacolada. Creamy coconut goodness bursting with citrusy tropical flavours, sunshine in a glass this drink.
New Menu launch to celebrate a milestone
Chef-Patron Shameem has recently introduced a new menu which continues to offer authentic Indian dishes well-loved by their regulars but with some exciting Indo-Chinese offerings.
The best part of enjoying a meal with my fellow bloggers is the opportunity to sample varied dishes which really gives me a better understanding of the various dishes offered at the restaurant.
For meat and seafood starters, Heidi and I sampled a really mouth-watering selection. The Cinnamon Fish is one of their signature dishes, the white fish is lightly battered and fried with garlic and onions and garnished with nuts and mint
The crispy fried prawns are made with fresh prawns coated in a mix of spices and a thick batter. Though the prawns tasted fresh and had taken up the flavour of spices, I personally found the batter a bit thick.
Another signature non-veg starter we relished was the Chicken Mongolian, this Indo-Chinese dish is a favourite with the regulars and a dish that one must try. The chicken is marinated in a unique blend of spices with fenugreek and peanut. But for me, the Dry Vegetrain Manchurian dish was way more tempting than the chicken starter! Vegetable dumplings tossed ina soy-based sauce definitely hit the spot – they have just the right kind mix of spicy, tangy, crunchy notes that I love and enjoy and have grown to expect from any good Indo- Chinese Veg Manchurian. This starter definitely took me back to my days in Bombay
The start from the non-veg starters was, without doubt, the fabulous Kalmi Kebab – delicious whole legs of chicken marinated in a rich mix of spices and yoghurt ad chargrilled to give the perfect balance of smoky, juicy, tender meat which fell of the bone very easily. Best enjoyed with a generous drizzle of lime juice and a large dollop of green coriander chutney with scooped up for every mouthful 😉
We also sampled the some vegetarian starters, chosen by Nayna, which included the fabulous Dry Veg Manchurian along with the Punjabi samosas, Chilly Garlic Cauliflower ( which can be ordered as chilly garlic mushrooms or even mogo – which I think is brilliant!), Palak chat – which is nice twist to the traditional street food Bhel and last but definitely not the least – Bhindi Karari
The Bhindi karari should be awarded as the best dish of the evening, this is a great accompaniment to drinks or fabulous just sprinkled over plain rice and daal tadka.
Though the Jhinga Kalonji (Hindi- English – Jhinga – Prawn, Kalonji – Nigella), is part of the mains menu we enjoyed this dish as part of our starter spread. These delicately spiced, chargrilled prawns are juicy and impossible to resist.
It would be unfair not to mention the fried papad (popaddums) platter that was served with a selection of dips and chutneys – always a welcome crunchy snack to navigate the waiting period before starters arrive or after the mains to wash down with drinks.
Main course and sides
This was a real feast as we ate our way around a huge selection of amazing meat and vegetarian dishes all mopped up with beautifully fresh Naans from the breadbasket and a variety of rice dishes including a fragrant Pulav rice and fluffy perfectly cooked plain rice.
For our meaty mains, we relished -Dum ka Murgh – another signature dish this Hyderabadi speciality is cooked in a rich sauce of almonds and cashews inside a sealed pot giving the dish a fabulous texture and making the chicken almost disapper as it hits the palate. Gosht Kalimirchi, yet another signature dish which the chef recommends pairing with a buttery naan. Succulent pieces of soft-cooked lamb are flavoured in a rich pepper sauce. Butter chicken was done well and is a very popular dish which ranks high in my list of flavourful comfort foods, highly recommended for those who love Indian food but cannot handle the heat from strong spices. The Saag Gosht was a beautiful dish, perfectly cooked chunks of lamb cooked in a thick spinach gravy – great with a garlic naan and plain rice.
The lamb biryani had a generous amount of delicious lamb pieces and was served in a beautiful earthen pot, which of course all us instantly fell in love with.
A rich Daal Makhani, a smoky Baingan Bharta (Baingan – Aubergine) and a fresh off the tandoor Peshawari naan side completed the main course spread.
Indulging my sweet tooth
Dessert to share included warm gajar halwa – a popular Indian dessert made from grated carrot, delicious warm gulab-jamuns served with vanilla ice-cream (but served separately for our table as I cannot stand to mix the fabulously syrupy gulab-jamuns with a frozen scoop of ice-cream), thick kheer – which was very homely and came sprinkled with pistachios and we also tasted a portion of pista kulfi.
The food at Cinnamon Lounge is prepared by a skilled team which reflects in the consistent delivery of authentic Indian cuisine that boasts of refinement going hand in hand with traditional dishes.
Excellent neighbourhood Indian restaurant with great service and good food. The menu has a good variety and covers most of the popular North Indian dishes and Indo-Chinese specials.
Average bill size for two adults with drinks, starters, mains and dessert would be approximately £55 – assuming beer is the drink of choice and there are 2 starters, 2 mains, sides and a dessert each.
With its delicious menu and festive specials, this makes for the ideal choice of place for celebrations with plenty of space for large groups. They also have separate areas for lounge, bar and dining.
Cinnamon Lounge is ideally located for Twickenham rail station and the bustling high-street. Twickenham Road has several buses plying from a stop right outside the restaurant towards Twickenham, also there is ample parking space available. And for those days when you simply don’t want to move a muscle, then there is always the option of ordering food online 😉
*With thanks to Cinnamon Lounge for the invite. All opinions expressed and photographs used are, as always, my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.