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