Tuesday 26 November 2013


High Chai afternoon tea at Cinnamon Soho

Cinnamon Soho is the third modern Indian restaurant from Vivek Singh of The Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen. The establishment is just a stone's throw from the cobbles of Carnaby Street in London and besides lunch, dinner and takeaway it now also offers afternoon tea... with a twist.

Most people will associate the quintessentially British meal with delicate and creamy cucumber finger sandwiches, large hot scones generously topped with Devonshire clotted cream and home made jam, and an array of finger-licking cakes and pastries. I admit that that was my first thought too, so when I heard about the Indian afternoon tea I initially felt sceptical about the concept.

I needn't have worried as High Chai offers an inspiring and delicious combination of flavours that had both my guest and myself oh-ing and ah-ing all throughout the meal.

To accompany the sweet and savoury treats on offer we opted for two very different teas, both of which we thoroughly enjoyed. Whereas I chose Indian Masala Chai, which is freshly brewed in-house using ginger and cardamon, my friend ordered the delicate silver needle. I particularly loved how well my choice complemented the spicy flavours of the rest of the meal.

As the tea was served we were presented with three plates of enticing canapes and we started with the inviting Bombay potato bonda and green chutney. It was made up of a beautiful combination of flavours and we loved it so much that we put half of the little ball of delight to the side of our plates to save for later. But when the same happened with the Bangla Scotch egg and spicy kasundi relish, which had a funky pinkish colour on the inside and managed to make us actually like Scotch eggs, and the tandoori chicken and chutney sandwich, we realised that there was no point in saving half of the delights as they were all incredibly appetising.

At this stage we decided to mix things up a little bit and move on to the sweets on the plate. The ginger and garam masala cake was not as spicy as we initially feared and its scrumptiously gooey texture and sugary sweet aftertaste went really well with small sips of my Indian Masala Chai. The scones were tiny, much smaller than the regular British ones, but perfectly sized for us as at this point in the meal as we started to feel quite satisfied. The scone itself was lightly spiced and worked really well with the apple and fennel chutney, which is a combination I had not tried before but I can definitely be tempted by again.

Finally we sampled the Bhangra lamb slider, which had been the part of the afternoon tea I'd been looking forward to the most and it didn't disappoint. The meat was juicy and plenty and combined with the spices, relish and the sweetness of the brioche bun it was a perfect finish to an already lush meal.

I love afternoon tea and have visited a wide selection in the past as it's always the go-to meal when I have friends and family visiting. And despite having sampled the meal at posh restaurants and high-end hotels, the excellently executed version at Cinnamon Soho is one of my favourites yet. The savoury and sweet treats on offer are delicious, diverse and plenty, and we thoroughly enjoyed sampling them all.

The Indian twist makes it especially great for those who have grown a bit bored of cucumber sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, and its close vicinity to the bustling streets of Regent Street and Oxford Circus makes this a great location to take a well-earned break after a long and tiring day of (Christmas) shopping.

The High Chai is not only very tasty but at £20 for two people it's also great value. And for an extra £5 per person you can start your afternoon tea with a Cinnamon Bellini cocktail, made with Prosecco and a home-made cinnamon syrup which is infused with Earl Grey. Prosecco is already an alcoholic drink I am very fond of and the enticing cinnamon twist suited both the cocktail and the overall theme of the afternoon tea very well.

Cinnamon Soho, 5 Kingly St, London W1B 5PF.

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