Jac and I went out to dinner with Juji and Jay at Cinnamon on the Park Indian Restaurant (892 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park).
As we studied the menu, a waiter placed a basket of complimentary warm pappadum and a little dish of mango chutney on our table. It was fun trying to decide what to order while munching on the crispy pappadum dipped in the sweet chutney.
We decided to share a starter and chose the assorted platter (AU$22.50) which featured vegetable pakora, onion bhaji, samosa, chicken tikka and seekh kebab. We very carefully cut everything into four so we could all try a bit of everything. The pakora and bhaji fell apart but were both really tasty! The seekh kebab was heavily meaty and well flavoured, but my favourite was the chicken – boneless skinless thigh pieces, bursting with succulence. The samosa had a surprising bite to it, thank goodness for the cooling yoghurt dip!
We ordered a few main dishes to share, along with steamed basmati rice and a couple of different breads. We found the Cinnamon on the Parkmenu online before making our booking and Jac was immediately keen to try the house specialty of Cinnamon baby goat curry (AU$21.50, named after the restaurant). This was our favourite dish of the night – the goat was unbelievably tender and the gravy was rich with the flavour of the meat – you could tell it had been cooking for a long, long time.
We ordered the prawn malabari (AU$23.50), which the menu told us is a specialty of Malabar in South India. This curry was made with bursty plump prawns with freshly ground coconut and blended spices. It had a surprising bite to it but wasn’t overly spicy-hot, perfect with a dollop of raita (see below).
Juji and I are big butter chicken fans, so we had to order the butter chicken (AU$18.95). The boneless chicken pieces were tandoori roasted, served in the tomato-based creamy butter chicken sauce. The chicken was very tender but in terms of flavour we thought this wasn’t as tasty as butter chicken can be. And just like the butter chicken I’ve eaten in at Chutney Mary’s in Subiaco, the dish appeared to be mostly gravy – there never seems to be enough chicken in butter chicken.
We all wanted a dhal dish and chose the dhal panchrangi (AU$13.95), which consists of lentils, spinach and peas. It was served in a little bucket and was delicious – it was nice to have spinach and peas with lentils.
Juji is a big fan of keema naan, which I had never tried. It’s Indian flatbread stuffed with ground lamb (AU$6.50). It was yummy, but Juji reckons she’s eaten better keema naan in Sydney.
Jac and I were keen on trying the garlic naan too – flatbread topped with fresh garlic and coriander (AU$5.00). The bread was nice and buttery (well, presumably ghee rather than butter), but it wouldn’t been even better if the garlic was freshly minced rather than (it appeared) garlic granules.
With all the rich flavours and gravy we were glad we’d ordered the steamed basmati rice (AU$5.00) to soak it all up.
We also ordered one of Jay’s favourite things when eating Indian food, raita (AU$4.50). I especially loved to dip a piece of garlic naan into the goat or prawn gravy and then top that with a blob of raita.
My plate, round one, with a little bit of everything. I just wished I had enough room to finish up every drop of that goat curry gravy! I haven’t stopped thinking about the baby goat curry since this meal, which is quite remarkable!
I was quite happy to sit back with my full tummy and watch the others eat dessert. They ordered a couple of desserts and shared them. This was naram garam, a gulab jamun served with ice cream and cream.
Jac loves rice pudding, so she ordered the kheer, which is an Indian-style rice pudding with fruit and nuts in it. She loved it!
I’d go back to Cinnamon on the Park to just eat the baby goat curry – and to try more of their other dishes, of course. But if I wanted butter chicken I’d go elsewhere.
Cinnamon on the Park Indian Restaurant
892 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park
On water in restaurants
It used to be in Perth if you were offered water for the table in a restaurant, they’d give you chilled tap water for free. But restaurants are increasingly offering customers water (“Would you like some water for the table?”) and serving commercially bottled still or sparkling mineral water, which is of course not free. Some still bring the free chilled tap water; some will give you the option of tap water or mineral water; some will just reappear at the table with the commercially bottled water. Cinnamon on the Park fell into the third category. I’m not fussed about paying for water, I’d just like to know how much the water will be and actually choose to pay for it (just as I would choose to order and pay for any other beverage). It always feels like the waiter/restaurant has been sneaky about the water when they don’t mention it’s commercially bottled before plonking it on the table, seal broken, lid opened – and therefore non-returnable and chargeable. I’ve been to restaurants where they don’t even list the bottled water on the drinks menu, which I think makes it even more sneaky. What’s so hard about giving the customer the options upfront? Or do they think they need to trap you into paying for the water because they think you wouldn’t order it if you knew it wasn’t free? Presumably most customers would be too embarrassed to say “Oh, I thought you’d give me free water” and then try to return the commercially bottled water once it had been placed on the table.
EDIT: I will just add that tap water in Perth is good enough to drink, so for many people, it would be perfectly fine to be given chilled tap water to drink at a restaurant. I realise this may not be the case in all cities/countries.