Whenever I travel, I am always looking for bookish places to eat or have a drink. In my latest escape to London, UK, a friend recommended The Cinnamon Club as a great place to have authentic Indian cuisine. As a fan of curry and naan, I immediately added this to my itinerary. But it wasn’t until I looked it up that I realized I would be dining among books!
The Cinnamon Club is located inside the Old Westminster Library. It was a public library that opened its doors in 1893. On the stonework outside the building you’ll see some familiar literary faces: Spenser, Shakespeare, and Chaucer in one panel; Dryden, Milton, and Tennyson in another. In fact, the entire building is a Grade II listed building, meaning that it has historical significance and must meet guidelines to maintain the historic value of the edifice.
And the restaurant has delightfully retained the unique character both inside and out! Wooden bookcases line the walls of the main dining room. And it isn’t hard to imagine the second floor, peeking out from under rounded frames, as a place that held long tables for readers. The Cinnamon Club will even bring you your bill in a book—as if it were a bookmark that you’ve simply forgotten. Mine was Golden Soak (1973) by British author Hammond Innes.
While the location is impressive, the menu lived up to the surroundings. I shared two starters: “okra filled with peanut and jaggery, curried yoghurt and chilli coconut chutney” and the “lamb mille-feuille – Hyderabadi black spiced lamb escalope, Awadhi lamb galouti” which were both delicious. Although the okra was first in my book (pun intended!). For the main it was the Cinnamon Club 20th anniversary special: “Old Delhi style butter chicken on the bone, pilau rice, black lentils, garlic naan and fenugreek butter.” The curry arrived in a silver dish that was plenty for the two of us and had all the classic flavour you could want.
The Cinnamon Club is centrally located and easy to get to. It is only a 15-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, and less than 5 minutes from Westminster Abbey. Make a reservation before you go.