SPICE GOES STATESIDE WITH VIVEK

Indian food in England has come a long way. Once preserved for an after-the-pub pit stop, the likes of Vivek Singh at The Cinnamon Club have transformed that dated image, added contemporary techniques to their traditional dishes and injected a little (no, a lot) of that seductive Asian spice into our culinary choices.

How that will translate stateside is yet to be realised. It’s uncertain what the most popular food in America is at the moment. Indian restaurants in New York are definitely on the up though. And with Vivek Singh popping up his expertise at Desmond’s quintessential (not to mention well-healed) New York haunt we’re sure to find out soon.

You might already recognise the top chef from the telly – he’s a regular on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Celebrity Masterchef and UKTV’s Market Kitchen. And there’s three of his cookbooks out there to choose from too.

That’s not to say his top table tickets are any less for all the fame. The Cinnamon Club is fine dining, don’t you know. With the awards, and the notoriety, to prove it – from the World Food Awards to the Toptable Award, even a Cool Brands tip and Sustainable Restaurant Association Award.

If anyone can boost the image of Indian food in America, it’s Vivek. Pairing with Desmond’s chef and co-owner David Hart (formerly of London’s SoHo House and Claridge’s) and his partner Richard O’Hagen (known for his hospitality skills with Mark Birley at Annabels’) is a winner in itself….

Vivek Singh. the Cinnamon Club, London

You’re off to New York next month for a Cinnamon Club pop-up at Desmond’s. How and why did the pairing come about?

The synergy between The Cinnamon Club, a modern Indian restaurant in the grade II-listed Old Westminster Library in London, and Desmond’s, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is simple; both are dedicated to food that is fresh, creative and beautifully presented, while both attract the same discerning foodies in similarly stylish surroundings. We can’t wait to start serving on 4th February!

Can we expect to see more permanent Cinnamon-style provisions there in future?

It’s definitely something we’re thinking about: we’ve got Cinnamon Soho London opening at the beginning of March, and that is our priority for the first part of 2012, but we’re keen to see how the New York pop-up will be received by Manhattan’s foodies — and its press! And then, who knows.  Manhattan has always been on TCC’s radar. The Cinnamon CLUB definitely has the potential to expand overseas and cities like New York, Tokyo or Paris would make sense.

Desmond's restaurant, New York

Your classic yet contemporary cuisine has really increased the image of Indian food in the UK but how does that translate over in the states? What New York-based Indian restaurants would you recommend?

We’ve incorporated plenty of US-specific ingredients into the Desmond’s menu: Alaskan salmon; Amish chicken; and Long Island duck, for instance. When it comes to Indian restaurants in New York, Tamarind is a cut above the others — I particularly like the Tea Room!

Where else in the city do you like to go for food? What three restaurants do you recommend we try?

There are so many places to eat at in New York, it’s hard to know where to start — but when it comes to food, it really is the city that never sleeps. I’d recommend Pastis for brunch and people-watching on a Saturday or Sunday, but for dinner it’s got to be the Robert De Niro restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel, Locanda Verde. Italian sharing plates at their very best! I also like the Red Rooster in Harlem, where Obama ate last year; Harlem is one of the coolest places to eat in New York right now, and this place does American fare like nowhere else. And of course Danny Meyer‘s uber sophisticated Gramercy Tavern.

We’re sure you’ve got some swanky accommodation to bed-down in – who’s on your top list?

It has to be The Standard hotel New York. It’s got views of the High Line and Meatpacking District and brilliant cocktails in the Living Room lounge bar downstairs.

Finally, should you get any time off, where would you go to chill out?

I like to rent a car and head to the Hamptons for some much-needed peace and quiet! Weather permitting, of course!

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