Friday 24 August 2007

Cinnamon - Waterlooville

First rule to observe when you’re going out for the evening: Know where you’re going. Wednesday I failed this essential criteria, our party of three should’ve been sipping aperitifs between 7-7.30, instead we, or rather I (in attempt to save face) were absconding stray locals asking directions to Cinnamon Indian restaurant. Man With Macdonalds Happy Meal To The Rescue! Turned out the PLACE is on London Road, at the end of Waterlooville’s main shopping precinct (if that’s no too grand a description). A relatively new arrival, wouldn’t have been there when last I visited, for a Pirate themed Party at Macdonalds – the irony!

Back to the future, space is smartly upholstered, carpeted, quiet and roomy, ideal place for lounge lizards. SERVICE was subdued and unfussy, perfect. FOOD? ‘Expect the unexpected’ announced the menu! Poppadoms worth a passing comment for viscous mint yoghurt, Starters; top marks for onion bhajis, my Boti kebab could have been seasoned better but was complemented well by tamarind sauce, so far so good but nothing out of the ordinary. The Mains changed all that. Possibly the best array of curry’s I’ve sampled in the Petersfield-Pompey area – ‘Kodu’, Blood red, Madras strength Chicken dish with spicy pumpkin, onions, garlic, green chilli and coriander, ‘Chasnidargh’, similar to an Achari but with gentle sweetness of honey and an accent of vinegar, ‘Jaradaloo’, Parsee dish served on formal occasions, arranged marriage banquets (!), gave strong flavours of caradamom and coriander seed, a new taste to seasoned curry loving lips. Each of these delights cost £6.95, with Veg sides at £3.50, rice in the £2 range PRICES equal value for money.

...The same could not be said of tickets to the Cricket World Cup 2007. Average admission cost more than a labourers weekly wage, only local, rasta with big dreads blowing a long sad note on his conch. The barmy army were well represented bearing their lobster pink torsos, well balanced - beer in each hand - while a few Indians remained to cheer or jeer on their near neighbours.

It was the eve of England’s clash with Bangladesh spent at Cinnamon. Enjoyed plenty of banter with the genial waiters over possible outcomes (surely there could be only one?). Restaurant sadly empty but this allowed for army friend Tim and I to have a long laid back evening. 2 long sausage shaped sheek kebabs to start, succulent in the extreme, flavoured with mint and coriander leaf. Main course was Chicken Haandy Massala, unique combination of green cardamom, cloves lingered long and bitter sweet. Pilau rice fragrant enough to be enjoyed on its own. Aloo Gobi Methi, perfectly cooked, dry vegetable dish without any excess cooking fat. Accompanying Roti good as was the house white wine (dry, medium dry).

...Cut to a warm June evening, Friday night. Service good as ever, food never anything other than. Began with ChickenTikka. Large nuggety pieces in a spicy hot pale orange marinade, flecked with ?. To follow Lamb Dhaniawala. Tangy, strong, ever so slightly salty, flavour of roasted coriander-cumin seed predominating. Moghlai Spinach side, dreamily stirred with cream, caramelized onion, sultanas, sweet cinnamon, tempered with savoury garam massala the best of a good bunch (others – an enormous Chicken Aloo Chat, another Jardaloo). Alas between 7 and 9.15 Cinnamon had only ten diners. Why? Is it simply that people don’t want curry when its warm OR are the good citizens of Waterlooville simply unappreciative of good grub? Prefer an evening in the pub? Is it the restaurants drab town centre location? A mixture of all the above I fancy. Anyhow here’s hoping business picks up, the place is deserving of more patrons.

...20th July 2007. A date that will be literary history, marking last installment of the Harry Potter series. Prior to a midnight vigil at One Tree Books went to the distinctly unmagical Waterlooville for a curry Cinnamon style. ID’d when ordering 2 bottles of house white! Perhaps the Gryfindor scarfs aroused suspicion. Good meal again. Chicken Tikka then a delicious Garlic Chilli Lamb. Lean meat in a sour and juicy gravy laced with red chillies. As well as Saag Paneer, plain and simple but a little bland despite warm savoury spinach, plenty of curd cheese. A large serving of Special fried rice – egg, peas, runner beans, carrots, celery – provided the carbs. Sampled Kerala Curry, generous cubes of white fish in a toasty ochre sauce ending with sweet dulcet coconut flavour. I wonder what Dumbledores takeaway of choice would have been? God rest his soul!

...Alas nothing particularly magical about the food next visit. Boti Kebab, redolent of musky mustard oil to begin, fine but not enthusing. Ditto a Balti Shobuzi, pounded strips of meat in gravy with hot chilli resin, salty and astringent (coriander puree) sharp and sour (tamarind). Perhaps because of the vehemence of my main an okra side dish seemed under spiced. Still Aaran voted his Chicken Kodu the best.

Calm and spacious, the place remains a good spot for a laid back Friday evening meal out.

Willp2328 score: 7/10

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