Situated above The Hunter’s Moon, this contemporary restaurant brings a little piece of India to Ashbourne’s main street
The décor is rich and impressive. Well-spaced tables are beautifully dressed, the polished wood set off by bright red runners, candles and sparkling silverware. Some large tables would be suitable for families or groups of friends, but it would also be a good destination for a romantic night out.
There’s a modern approach to the cuisine that includes dishes from various parts of India, bringing a wide range of flavours to the menu.
Poppadoms and dips arrive as you’re making your choices from an extensive menu, with a clear explanation of all dishes. A particularly helpful touch is the chef’s recommendation for a vegetable side to accompany each main course.
When the food arrives it is colourful, as you’d expect, and looks wonderful against simple white dishes and bowls. And with locally grown seasonal produce and herbs used in making the sauces and spice blends daily, there’s a real freshness and authenticity to the flavours.
The menu is also very coeliac friendly. While dishes are not designated as such, ask your server for advice and you will be pleasantly surprised by how much is on offer.
You might start with aloo tikki, pan-fried potato cakes from north-western Punjab, or to try several different tastes on one plate, get the Cinnamon Garden platter for one. For a main course, chicken or lamb chettainud, which originates from the southern coast of India, is a popular choice. This is a delightful dish cooked with black pepper, cinnamon and cloves, stewed with curry leaf and coconut for warming mix of exotic flavours. Or if you love seafood, try the khadai prawns, which are sweet and succulent.
An enjoyable vegetable recommendation is channa masala, chickpeas braised with fresh fenugreek, cardamom seeds and tamarind, with fresh coriander. Even the rice is given different twists, such as lemon or coconut, adding yet another layer of flavour to already complex dishes.
After all those spices, desserts are fruit focused and refreshing, such as mango kulfi or tandoori pineapple.
Sunday lunch, which runs from 12:30 to 3:30, is brilliant value and is a bit of a secret well-kept by locals. Several set menu options also offer good value and you can order takeaway for delivery or collection.
A well-selected short wine list is complemented by beers and also cider, which are both good accompaniments to spicy food.
With its pleasing setting, good cooking and courteous service from well-trained staff, the Cinnamon Garden is an asset to the Ashbourne area – and offers good value too.