Friday, 15 October 2010

The Duracell bunny, Ulrika Jonsson, and a Whole Lot of Cinnamon

By Alex Williams

Having woken up in the bad mood that has plagued me since the age of 12; I decided to lie in bed and read the news on my mobile to ensure that I was fully up to date with the inescapable misery that is life. Having read about yet another natural disaster and the suspicious death of a political leader of an ex-Soviet state –looks like Putin may have been playing with Polonium again - my phone beeped and the words ‘new message’ appeared on the screen.

The message read ‘Why was the Duracell bunny arrested?’ ‘Because he was charged with battery.’ I laughed and laughed again, and, being someone who doesn’t exactly laugh too often, I kept laughing. Throughout the day I forwarded the joke to twenty or so people, pretty much all of whom responded with further laughter. I adore that joke and the principal reason for which, I believe, is its simplicity.

Later that day leaving Aldgate East tube with a northern friend - when I say northern, I mean Yorkshire, not Islington – it was only a short walk to Brick Lane; London’s most celebrated area for Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. I can’t say I always like Brick Lane, I find the fact that people are trying to drag you into each restaurant a bit of a pain; if there were a little more lycra and Ulrika Jonsson commentating then passing through the Brick Lane gauntlet could be seen to be very similar to being on Gladiators.

Making it to half way up Brick Lane we chose a restaurant called Cinnamon, its busy interior looking inviting as the evening air started to become a little cooler. Once inside and seated, I didn’t find the interior all that appealing; there is nothing wrong with it, there is just little right with it. However, remembering the joke from that morning I kept in mind the fact simplicity can be a good thing. Flicking through the menu, whilst taking frequent glugs on the always pleasant pint of Cobra, I saw all those dishes that I would expect to see along with a long and absorbing specials section; one delicious description surpassed by the next.

Soon the kitchen doors flew open to the sound of flesh burning on hot metal; I thought I had seen food served on a sizzling plate before but I was wrong. Placed on the table was a mountain of animal, sizzling and spitting; the smells and sounds drew attention from the surrounding tables with those who hadn’t yet ordered, enquiring as to what it was, and from those who had ordered, kicking themselves that they hadn’t. This carnivore’s paradise was a pleasure to devour from first bite to last – in that time I successfully managed to cover the table cloth in fried onion and other detritus, but it didn’t really matter, this wasn’t a pretentious restaurant and the staff didn’t seem to mind in the slightest.

The mains again were excellent, my northern dining partner - someone who generally believes that you haven’t had a proper evening out for a curry unless you end in fits of tears thanks to the sweltering heat - insisted on going for the novelty of a duck curry rather than consuming an inferno. My Raja Chingri Karahi was to die for; juicy prawns in a thick spicy sauce.

From when we arrived to when we left the tables around us were packed with a whole host of people – from couples out for a romantic meal to a larger group celebrating a birthday. The service was spot on, appearing when your plate or glass was empty but not hovering.

Walking up Brick Lane later that evening, elbows ready to jab into the kidneys of anyone who insisted on trying to make me eat in their restaurant despite the fact that I pointed out that I had already eaten, I was once again smiling. This had now been twice in one day, which, for me, could be said to be something of a rarity. I thoroughly enjoyed Cinnamon and it had been for the same reason as the joke: simplicity. Though Michelin Starred restaurants have their place, there are few types of restaurant in which I can enjoy myself more, have a relaxed meal with friends and a little too much to drink than in a curry house. And when looking for one of these, Cinnamon is a great choice.

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