Posted by eemilla on April 22, 2011
I believe Cinnamon Kitchen is the final new addition to the south end that I was interested in trying so a few nights ago we headed over. They have a corner spot in Gerber Village with roadside frontage, and fortunately for everyone Five Guys has turned down the volume on their noise pollution, which should make dining on either one of the two patios a bit more pleasant (although the noise from Hendersonville Rd or fumes from the parking lot might not be anymore pleasant). The interior is warm, and the tables are moderately spaced. We sat on the opposite side of the bar divided by a five foot wall; unfortunately, this put us in hearing distance of the server stand behind the bar and in good view of the flat screen for the bar patrons.
After we were sat, we were served by two servers although the hostess advised Nick would be taking care of us. This did nothing to improve service. For the most part it also did nothing to really impair service either; however at one point our waters were removed to be refilled rather than just use the pitcher that was used later. We received our appetizers from a food runner, and halfway through the server who had removed the waters returned to inquire about the appetizers at which point we reminded her about our missing waters. She returned with only one, but my husband had his beer so we just let it go. The other issue occurred at the end of the meal when our check arrived before we were finished (with about an hour of service remaining), so we ordered dessert then after finishing and having the plates cleared and having enough time to run to the ladies’ room we had to request the check. Both servers were friendly if less than professional, but again overall it was mediocre not terrible service.
We ordered liberally because I’m almost always hungry these days, and overall the food was fine but not impressive. I felt the opener and the closer were the best parts of the meal; I ordered some garlic naan, and it was really garlicky and not overly greasy as well as being a fair portion. We also ordered two additional appetizers, which were less than stellar. My hara bara kabob (wasn’t actually a kabob although the menu description does indicate it is a patty) was overworked potatoes formed into cakes with spinach and served with a huge chuck of icky looking lettuce and two sauces (tamarind and a green spicy mix); while the cake was gummy, the flavor was fine. My honey had two large veggie samosas, and as I only had one bit I don’t recall if the potato was overworked.
My husband ordered the tandoori lamb, and the portion was generous. It was served with again huge chunks of vegetables in the center with the lamb chops arranged in a circle around the plate. The center vegetables were not seasoned but they had been cooked; although one could cut them at the table, it is just odd to be served such large pieces of vegetables. The chops were served with sauce in a separate dish that my honey really enjoyed. For my entree I replicated my Mela dining experience and ordered the bangan bhar. Although my vegetables were much more bite sized, the eggplant was cooked down much more than the peppers or onions, and the tomatoes looked like the whole canned tomatoes we use at home to make red sauce. The flavor and portion were fine, and it was also served with white rice and frozen peas on the side. For dessert I went with the mango kulfi, and at less than four dollars I must endorse this as one of the best dessert options on this end of town. The presentation did detract a bit from the dessert; five or six cubes of mango kulfi were surrounded by two clouds of canned whipped topping that had been drizzled with chocolate syrup. On the plus side, the chocolate syrup and whipped topping were off to side and could be avoided.
The beer selection might be considered impressive outside of Asheville, but nary a local brewery was represented on draft (Gaelic by the bottle). While neither our food nor the service were outright bad, I feel Chai Pani offers much better food for much less money, and we both agreed that there is no reason to return to Cinnamon Kitchen (although thinking about that mango kulfi I might return to assuage my sweet tooth).