Grabameal

Cinnamon Club

Old Westminster Library Great, Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU
020 7222 2555
Indian Restaurant
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1 review of Cinnamon Club

05/03/2006
P Brady

A party of nine friends booked the Cinnamon Club restaurant for a Saturday evening. Arriving slightly early for our 9pm booking, we started with drinks in the bar downstairs. Quite pleasant surroundings, but staff initially appeared quite 'offish' and through inability or choice have very little to say or interact with customers. Raising a polite smile seemed almost painful for one or two. Prices for drinking before hand are not good, but I suppose all pre-restaurant bars have this same disadvantage. Making our way to our table, after 'asking' if it was ready (think they would leave you drinking and spending in the bar if they could). We were presented with a menu, which can only be described as 'select'. This limited menu was not what we expected having liked the look of the food options on the web site. Vegetarians had no choice at all, one starter, one main! The 'head waiter' was called to ask if the choice was limited for a particular reason and if we could please see the main menu. He said that a table of nine people was too much for the chef to cope with if ordering from the A La Carte menu (?), it would "take him too long to prepare dishes". We could not work out how it was more difficult for a kitchen to cater for two tables or one of nine, or choices from one menu or another, but apparently this was the policy! The web site mentions 'party menus', but these appear to be for large groups, be warned that anything over eight people on one table constitutes a large group in their eyes and your choice of food will be reduce. Without getting a pleasantry or smile from him we managed to talk the 'head waiter' into allowing the vegetarians to choose a dish from the main menu. This member of staff could not raise a smile and although he might have been trying to be professional, it came across as impolite snobbery. The starters we received were nice and the food was enjoyed by most of our party. The main course was good too, the food flavour and presentation appeared to please all. The desserts with one exception were a disappointment, bland and not what you would expect. If you have female company in your party, watch out for the waiting staffs reaction. Some, including the head waiter this evening seem to have no shame when it comes to enjoying the view. Almost distracted from their jobs and giving each other the nod and wink , to comment on their observations. Particularly noticeable when women get up to go to the toilet, etc. At 10:55pm, we felt like the night was ending prematurely, when asked if we wanted a last drink, as the bar was closing. Obviously a licensing issue, but not what you expect from a high charging restaurant in central London, particularly when you don't get to your table until after 9pm. Bill paying left us with our final disappointment of the evening. We received the bill and split the heavy cost between us. Noticing the bottom line includes a 12.5% 'Discretionary' service charge, we decided we would rather provide a tip of our choice. We then had to explain to the waiter why we had not given the bottom line charge, he just would not except that we were paying the bill without the discretionary 12.5% they had added on. I had to ask for the manager to explain. He came and asked us quite abruptly what had been wrong with the service we had received? Giving him a couple of the above reasons for not being 'fully' satisfied with service, I had to explain we would be leaving our own 'tip' that we felt was appropriate. Some would say that their expectation of having the 12.5% service charge paid by everyone is quite presumptuous and almost unacceptable. They still ended up with a good £20+ tip from our table, but this was from people feeling embarrassed and guilty about the challenge we had received. We left feeling pleased with food, but not with the restaurant for service. Summarising the evening, expensive choice, overpriced in areas, little atmosphere or friendliness from staff, food choice restrictions, management and charge issues. Will not be choosing to eat here again soon. Would not recommend, when there are so many better places available.