When I first came across Vivek Singh about 13 years ago in a remote part of Jaipur and convinced him to up roots and come to London to head up my Cinnamon Club project, I knew he was a great chef (age 28) and an intelligent person. When I told the general manager of the hotel he was working at that I had allured his closest ally and friend, he told me: “You know he’s got a great head. What you don’t yet know is that he has strong shoulders too.”
I soon found out what he meant. He arrived in London to be met by a building nightmare which led in turn to a financial mess and he took it all in his stride. Largely thanks to his support we went on to open what is by far the finest Indian restaurant in the world.
Whilst I no longer have a commercial connection with it, I remain a Cinnamon Cub regular and have also been of Vivek’s first independent offshoot Cinnamon Kitchen. This week I visited his second (third in all) venture, Cinnamon Soho in Kingly Street and saw how much he has opened up as a true asset to the London dining environment. Celebrating the massive historical relationship between Britain and India, with the latter now in the driving seat, he has created a menu that adds spice to British classics to reflect how things are today.
There’s a fantastic Keralan fish pie, a Bengali themed scotch egg, even a curried Cullen Skink.
In all honesty, I was dubious about it when I first heard the plan but I buttoned my lip (for a change) and after an epic four-hour trawl through the menu, I have declared Cinnamon Soho my new second home.