Where: Cinnamon Soho, Kingly Street
When: April 2017
Price: £25 per head with a glass of prosecco
In short: A novelty afternoon tea that isn’t just style over substance
Every few months I go for afternoon tea with my mum and aunties and, after several rounds of the same finger sandwiches, we were on the hunt for something different. I was sceptical. Traditional afternoon tea can be a considerable expense, and what you pay for is an overall experience rather than great quality food. I expected any novelty spinoffs to have a similar focus on style over substance, but offering more than sandwiches means that more can go wrong. Cinnamon Soho’s High Chai proved me wrong on both counts, delivering a thoughtful and tasty menu for only £15 per person.
The savoury food was a Bombay potato bonda (potato filling dipped in batter and fried), caramelised onion and mint samosa, tandoori chicken and chutney toasted sandwich and a small lamb burger (listed on the menu under one of my pet peeve restaurant terms, ‘slider’). The lamb burger was spiced with a subtle, not overpowering, touch. The samosa used the thicker variety of pastry that I do not usually enjoy, but somehow it was still incredibly light. Everything was served with two delicious chutneys: a green coriander chutney and a sweet orange sauce (probably mango but I fear that I was too busy devouring it to identify it).
The sweet offering doesn’t normally do much for me, but Cinnamon Soho delivered three small delights that I easily polished off. The cardamom-spiced scone was amazing – we puzzled over the spices in it for a good 15 minutes before asking the chef. The chocolate tartlet had the best thin and crunchy pastry base I think I have ever had. A rich plum sponge cake rounded off a delicious meal.
Your drink is a choice between a green, assam, earl grey or silver needle tea. One downside is that the tea is served in a pot for two, so you need to agree on a variety to share with a buddy. My aunt wanted to try the silver needle and I acquiesced. It was my first taste of a white tea variety – I tend to prefer strong black teas – but the delicate taste was a refreshing change. They offer a cinnamon bellini, increasing the price of tea for two from £30 to £40. We opted instead for a glass of prosecco.
The service was good, although lately I am finding that catching an eye to ask for the bill is the hardest part of any meal. We asked the waiter a few questions about the food, including what spice was in the scone (cardamom, now added to my list of things to try at home), which he dutifully asked the chef. My aunties were disappointed that the food was not served on traditional afternoon tea stands, but I preferred being given an individual plate without the stand taking up space on an already crowded table.
Cinnamon Soho is a regular restaurant, so if you want to don your gladrags and have a fancy afternoon experience you should look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a something a little bit different, with tasty food at a ridiculously good price, book it now. Thank me later.