Another One Bites the Dust ….. The Cinnamon Club, that is!

Am I just getting more exacting in my expectations of restaurants, I don’t think so. Himself sometimes calls me fussy ( not true) but I do know what I want and what I expect. When we first came to London, years ago, I used to visit Shepherds Market, where there was almost a hole in a wall Italian cafe, frequented by Taxi drivers. They made the most superb, chicken sandwich, umm umm and my current quick sandwich of choice, from Prèt a Manger, a ham and cheese baguette and service with a smile.

And so it was this weekend, a group of Old friends all  of whom lived at the same time as us in Brussels, met for dinner. The criteria were,  somewhere, where the 6 of us could sit and chat, have a nice meal, easy for all of us to get to. The choice was left up to me. As I had been a bit lax in making a reservation, many places were already full, had a very early dinner time or a very late one, neither of the latter two suited. I needed to find somewhere that could give us a table around 7.30 or 8 pm. I landed upon the Cinnamon Club.

I first went there in 2003 ( it opened in 2001) and it was a joy. Housed in the former Westminster Library, a beautiful room surround by books and upstairs a mezzanine, which serves as the private dining room.  We went for a corporate “DO”, after an evening of exotic Indian dancing and had the upstairs space, the atmosphere was fun, the food superb as was the service. Fast forward a few years and the “Ladies Who Lunch” went for lunch, again, everything was perfect.

So what has happened in the intervening years? over a million spent on a recent face lift but apart from that, our experience, and for all 6 of us was a disaster.

Firstly, our table, was in what could only be described as ” an overspill room,” an old book store, a dusty little corner with about 6 tables to seat about 24 people, with the atmosphere of a damp squib. We saw and could not see anything of the splendour of the old Library. Then the fun began, we consulted the wine list, and chose some white and a carafe of red and a beer. The beer arrived and after about 5 minutes the white wine and another 10 minutes the carafe of red wine. After about another 15 minutes, we grabbed someone and asked if we could order, a surprised look on the waiters face. We duly waited and a small amuse bouche appeared in front of us, with no explanation as to what it was, Our pescatarian friend had to grab someone to ask( it was so nondescript, that I have no idea, what it was). The wine waiter then poured wine into the glass of the beer drinker ( who by this time had asked for another beer). The glass was unceremoniously picked by the wine waiter and plonked in front of me ( so now I had two glasses). It went from bad to worse, the starters arrived and although my octopus was delicious, very tender, should have been sent back as it was luke warm. The main courses, well three  of us had the pheasant, it might have been pheasant but looked more like dry chicken, the assorted Indian breads, were distinctly uninspiring. Three people asked for coffee, no-one wanted dessert and we asked for the bill at the same time. We were on a bit of time restraint by now as there was a train to catch ( for those who came into town by train), coffee nowhere to be seen, someone got up to find a waiter, ( they were the other side of the door chatting, coffee came, and the Bill we asked? and the Bill, ?? at this point someone got really miffed, her coffee was not what she ordered, and it was cold, take it off the bill. The Cinnamon Club, does not included an automatic service charge, just as well, as we would have taken it off, as it was we did not add it on. The food was not great, could have been a whole lot better and as for the service, it was Dire. So Another one Bites the Dust. Too bad really , but there are plenty others to choose from.

The Cinnamon Club, Great Smith Street, London , SW1P 3BU

Back to the Millionaires Diet!

The other week, the Domestic God, excelled himself, and No it was not Oysters Rockefeller!! He told me I had to rise early and spruce myself up and be out of the house by 6.45!

Duly Done, I found myself in St. Pancras Station waiting for the early morning train to Paris, and Yes we went to Paris for lunch. All very decadent of course but he took me to a three star Michelin restaurant, near the Eiffel tower, on Rue Beethoven. It is called  L’Astrance  and has been listed in the top 50 of the worlds best restaurants for the last 7 years.

It is a small restaurant with only 25 covers, but  it still maintains crisp white lines. We were lucky to have one of the three small tables upstairs, which gave us a perfect open view of all that was going on. The service was impeccable without being in any way pretentious. Interestingly, there is no menu, never a menu, but one can choose how many courses one would like to eat and if to take the wine pairings option or not. We took the wine pairings, and they did indeed serve some very interesting wine.

Our first course or Amuse Bouche, was a small walnut tart along with a cucumber and  mousse tart. This was followed by the most raw mushroom I have ever seen! It was sliced into wafer thin slices and these were stuffed with Fois gras and a confit Citron on the side. The third nibble was , a couple of mini spring rolls with langoustines on a bed of caramelised peanuts and a peanut satay sauce.



These were followed by Patagonian toothfish. I had not heard of this fish before and little wonder. It lives in the cold waters of the southern Atlantic and is of a cod type. it lives  in deep water, (45m-3850m) but you are more likely to know it as Chilean Seabass. This name was created in 1977 by an American who was trying to sell it to the fickle American Market and the name has stuck. The fish is believed to live up to 50 years and its welfare and controlled fishing, is controlled by the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Marine Living Resources ( CCAMLR). The fish was served with a grapefruit, cabbage and pineapple sauce. Then we had chicken with red cabbage along with a chorizo type sausage mousse, quickly followed Duck from the Chalon region with a confit of tomatoes and a quince puree. And then a dish of Puree potato, but unlike you have ever had before, as it was served with Fromage Blanc  vanilla ice cream with thyme.

We finished off this extravaganza with a sweet chilli sorbet followed by banana cake and frozen cheesecake with shaved milk and an egg nog.

Given that there are only 25 covers in this little restaurant there were 7 waiters, hence the impeccable service.

Once we were suitably satiated, and we were, more than, we hopped back into a Taxi, back to the Gare du Nord ( some very odd memories of this station from my youth) back onto the Eurostar. We made an unscheduled stop somewhere near Lille to rescue some stranded passengers from another train and back to London. Another quick cab ride and off to the theatre. Not sure that either of us were ready to sit and watch an Oscar Wilde play, but we are not complaining, as “How Lucky are we?” Will we go back? Yes hopefully, one day !