Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Set between a noodle shop and an exterminator on a typical quiet residential street, Cinnamon blends into the crowd from the outside. Inside, however, the servers bring sets of cutlery instead of a bowl and chopsticks to most tables, and the menu leans Western. We tried the tuna sandwich, a solid handful made with scoops of tuna salad, lettuce, tomato, pan toasted bread, American cheese and onion rings. Eggplant and pork over rice (肉末茄子饭), a very popular dish in local places these days, was our favourite rendition so far. The menu has photos and some English; the Chinese only chalkboard specials outside offer a few combinations that are not on the menu.
The 48RMB ribeye came with an excellent scoop of mashed potatoes and an interesting spicy pan sauce made with mushrooms beside an overgenerously dressed salad. The steak was a decent sized chunk of protein for the price, but we'll order it well done next time. Cobb salad for 22RMB takes a few liberties with the formula but was a tasty enough composed salad and was sided with Japanese style sesame dressing. The menu contains such randomness as California rolls, Scotch eggs and Alabama chicken wings. For sweets they offer strawberry or banana pancakes and will mix up a bowl of liquid nitrogen ice cream for 28RMB.
We chatted with Mr. Li, the proprietor, who said he'd learned Western cuisine living in Australia for a few years. The restaurant only served Western dishes at first, but he added Chinese dishes to the menu to better suit the neighbourhood. Cinnamon feels like a place that is still figuring itself out, but it is a good place to keep in mind for nearby Kuanzhai Alley/Xiao Tong Alley. Chinese lunch specials and sandwiches are less than 20RMB each, steak 48RMB and desserts 26-28 RMB. Diners will shell out a bit more for the Western dishes than the Chinese dishes, but both parts of the menu offer excellent value worth exploring.