Another month has gone by and another curry place has been visited by the world renowned Oakham Curry Club (OCC). May’s meet brought us to the bustling Exmouth Market in Islington, London. A conveniently located meet for all members arriving from across the country.
The Cinnamon Tree was the chosen venue which has gained an impressive reputation among locals and tourists with its modern look and ambience. Since opening in 2010 it has been providing an authentic and contemporary combination of indisputable knowledge, experience, and tradition in Indian dining.
The OCC Scores:
Customer Care: 7.11
The evening started with a well organised pub crawl thanks to the Logistics Officer of the day. This was a good opportunity for the new triallist, Sam, to be introduced to the OCC and to understand the origins of various nicknames. By the final pub, which was a stone’s throw from the restaurant, all 16 members attending the meet had joined up. There was absolutely no risk of being late to this meet.... oh, hold on... 14 members and 1 triallist were in the restaurant on time whilst 1 member felt it more important to have a few ciggys before gracing us with his presence 15 minutes later. Anyway, I digress from the purpose of this blog.
As the scores reflect, the customer care and service was evident right from the outset. Drink orders were taken immediately and a good indicator of top service is where you don’t have to ask for another drink. The waiters were (mainly) on top of keeping us refreshed and asking for further drink orders. The same can be said with the food orders and the delivery time of bringing the food out. There were a couple of hiccups in terms of mixing up orders but with a crowd of 16 you cannot expect everything to run smoothly.
As is tradition, we began with poppadoms and the usual request of ‘ALLLLLL the sauces’. The general consensus was that the poppadoms were crunchy and made a good sound in the mouth as well as having a variety of sauces to enjoy.
One of the great aspects of the OCC is the range of curries that are ordered. Completing the full spice spectrum from your mild korma lovers to your hot vindaloo devourers - with this variety of pallets, you always know that a fair sample of the menu has been consumed by the OCC which translates to a very accurate summary on the quality of the food. A very respectable score was achieved on the quality of the Cinnamon Tree food. The food was described as ‘lovely’, ‘excellent’, ‘quality’ and ‘great’. Of course, to offer a balanced summary, a couple of not so good comments included ‘slightly let down by one piece of lamb’ and ‘ok main (very small portion)’. But the positive comments certainly outweighed the not so positive.
Nothing too shocking about the value score. We have now visited numerous curry houses both in and out of London so we are very accustomed to how the final bill should look at the end of the night. Cost per person was bang on what you would be expecting to pay for a curry in London with a few beers/G&Ts. To give our readers an idea, the typical cost per person of London meets are in the price range of £35-£45. Our bill came in at £40 per person.
Now, the only stand out disappointing aspect of the whole night, which is reflected in the scores, was the atmosphere. The venue is not huge which means straight away, and especially when we book out 16 spaces, there is limited space for other parties. During the evening I think there were about 5 other parties in the venue. Which is surprising based on the location and it being a Friday night. The perfect analogy for the atmosphere was ‘it was like a library’. One suggestion I would make is to at least have some background music playing - we feel this would make a world of difference.
In summary, a very enjoyable experience and if it wasn’t for a couple of very minor points and one major one (atmosphere) we could’ve been revisiting this venue to award them with the coveted OCC sticker of approval.
May your poppadoms be crispy, your sauces be tasty and your curries be spicy.