By Christopher Matthews
The Hudson Valley’s agricultural bounty has attracted many passionate chefs and restauranteurs, who are offering creative farm-to-table cuisine, mostly riffs on classic American, French bistro or Italian. Yet for other ethnic cuisines in our region, the experience is often underwhelming, lacking both authenticity and imagination, and little or no use of the local produce. Predictable menus with lowest-common denominator choices predominate. You’ve had such dishes—pad thai, beef and broccoli with brown sauce, chicken teriyaki. Hold the MSG, please!
Not at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine, on Rhinebeck’s southern outskirts.
Cinnamon is an altogether different incarnation, serving up sophisticated and intensely flavored pan-Indian cuisine prepared by chef and co-owner Chaminda Widyarathna. (The other co-owner is his wife, Shiwanti, who works the front of the house.)
“Cinnamon” alludes to Sri Lanka, both the origin of the spice and the Widyarathnas. And while the menu represents a rich tour of regional Indian dishes, the chef’s heart and sensibilities lie more in the south and Sri Lanka. This is reflected in an overall lighter touch with traditionally heavy Indian food, and his skilled use of southern Indian spices, such as curry leaf, cumin, mustard seed and various, vibrant chilis.
Courtesy the Widyarathnas, we rediscovered the excitement of compelling Indian cuisine, at reasonable prices, and in a simple, but elegant setting. Check out our full review of Cinnamon in the Observer.