Cinnamon Lounge (Isleworth, London)

I’ve already reviewed a London curry house with no ambitions to being anything other than a curry house. Here now is a review of a Sunday lunch buffet at another: Cinnamon Lounge. It is located even further west than Shepherd’s Bush, on Twickenham Road in Isleworth. Isleworth is part of the London borough of Hounslow—but I confess that I don’t quite understand London’s political geography: if Isleworth is not actually in London, please let me know. I can tell you with confidence that Hounslow and environs have a large South Asian population, and this is the kind of thing that gives you confidence in a curry house’s Sunday lunch buffet. The other reason for confidence was that this lunch was part of an extended family shindig organized by one of my cousins (who, indeed, lives in Hounslow). And everyone on that side of my extended family is obsessed with food. I am pleased to tell you that this confidence did not founder on the harsh shoals of reality—this was a nice lunch.

The place doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it’s spacious and smart enough on the inside. More importantly, they know what they’re doing in the kitchen. It’s not the most expansive Sunday buffet but what they lack in variety they make up for in focus. Well, I shouldn’t give the impression that it’s a limited spread: two veg starters, two non-veg starters, two veg dishes, dal, two non-veg dishs plus a chicken biryani, rice, naans, dosas and gulab jamuns. And quite a few salads of one kind or the other: in keeping with long-standing trends in India, you can eat pasta salads and “Thai” salads along with the more standard tomato-cucumber salad and chaat. The salad selection also goes a long way towards making true their claim of a “selection of more than 25 dishes” (though I’m still not sure there were quite that many dishes). I didn’t try the more exotic salads but the chaat was surprisingly decent.

I passed on the neon red bhajis (which belie the claim on their website that they don’t use any food colouring) but the potato pakoras alongside were quite nice. The veg dishes were nothing out of the ordinary (though the paneer was far better than the rubber you get at places of greater pretension in the US); the dal, however, was very good. So was the south Indian-style fish curry (and it made all the Bengalis in attendance very excited—as we generally like to think that we’re the only Indians who know how to cook fish). The biryani was also far better than you’d ever expect to find at a Sunday buffet in an unheralded curry house. The dosas and gulab jamuns were just about passable. The naans, alas, were less than passable. This is the point at which I will point out that the cost of all this was a mere £11.99 per adult. If this place was in our town I’d happily pay that once a month.

Anyway, there’s not much more to be said about this meal. Launch the slideshow for pictures and scroll down for a brief roadmap of my remaining London meal reports.

We’ve been back from England for a month and a half now. But I still have another seven or eight restaurant reports to go. Considering I still have quite a few restaurant reports from Scotland as well (another five or so) yet to come, this probably means it won’t be till mid-September that I’ll get back to posting reviews of places in Minnesota (and we haven’t really been eating out very much since we got back). At some point I might even post some recipes again.

Anyway, I’ll have my last meal report from Skye tomorrow. Come back for more pictures of shellfish!

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