Anyone who read my rather disparaging review of Cinnamon Kitchen when it opened last year at the top of The Westgate Centre will know that however impressed I was with the food, the prices put me off.

What might work in the City of London seemed strangely out-of-kilter in a shopping centre, regardless of the ‘predicted footfall’ and its aspiring demographic. John Lewis or no John Lewis I didn’t want to spend £25-plus on a curry.

The Oxford Times:

Head chef and owner Vivek Singh would disagree. He could easily cite the many times I’ve paid more for a main course right here on this very page. Was I being snobby? After all if Vivek was willing to overhaul Indian cuisine as a whole, why shouldn’t we pay more for his efforts and artistry?

The Keralan spiced lobster soup flamed with cognac may cost £12.50, which is expensive but not unfeasible. The chargrilled rump of lamb, keema karela, spinach and nutmeg sauce is £24, but at Gees, the rack of lamb, wood fired beetroot and spring greens is £26.95. What’s the difference?

The Oxford Times:

Cinnamon Kitchen is a special occasion place then, but its vast interior and one-size-fits-all location needs a lot of birthdays, anniversaries and gung-ho shoppers to fill it. Therein lies the problem, or as Clinton Pugh put it when he closed the revered and beloved Lemon Tree on Woodstock Road: “If it’s your favourite restaurant Katherine, why didn’t you visit more than once a year?”

The powers that be at Cinnamon Kitchen have therefore wisely introduced some budget menus. There is a set dinner (two courses £19; three courses £22, Monday–Sunday: 5pm–6pm, then 9pm onwards) and the so-called Fast and Fabulous One Dish menu, ranging from £9-£12.

The Oxford Times:

But most appealing is their Soho Joho Summer Terrace pop up option which boasts cocktails and four sharing dishes at around £5 each. In these toasty temperatures, when sitting outside is de rigeur, and the views over Oxford from the large terrace make the world a better place, it’s an easy choice.

The Joho Soho cocktails are all £7.50 each and boasted ingredients such as watermelon rind tonic, fresh grapefruit, chai, mint stems, curry leaves and cashew butter.

The pistachio shell daiquiri for me then, with rum and fresh lime juice, which went down a treat, while we waited for our friends to arrive.

Eschewing a starter, another hint as to why Cinnamon Kitchen is missing out, they shared said lamb and the pork ribs with a honey and chilli glaze (£19) with some delectable masala potatoes, devouring every last mouthful and smacking their lips like a Sicilian puttana.

My friend opted for the Tandoori Trio – paneer tikka, achari cauliflower and padron pepper (£14.75) which was beautiful to behold, its glossy colours a celebration of hue, flavour and ingredients, not to mention being as tasty as hell.

As for the Joho Soho mezze plates, they were fantastic and unusual. Take the papdi chaat (£4.50) which consisted of chutney potatoes, crisp wheat, yoghurt and a tamarind drizzle; not only an assault on the tastebuds but a wonderful mix of textures – soft, crunchy and slippery.

The Mumbai chowpatty bhelpuri (£4) was a curious mix of puffed rice with a crisp chickpea vermicelli, peanut, spiced potatoes, tamarind and pomegranate. Again the soft and hot, crunch and smooth, the bite of the potato against the sharp pomegranate.

The samosa chaat (£5) consisted of samosas, curried white peas, tamarind, yoghurt and coriander chutneys, which was my favourite; gregarious, juicy, gooey and crunchy all at the same time, its sauce running down my chin. The chicken wrap was divvied up like bounty as soon as it was placed on the table, the chicken tender, the sauce aromatic and the roti soft and warm.

We managed to share a dessert: the carrot halwa treacle tart with thandai sorbet (£7.50) a tropical take on the Victorian pud and as gentle and sweet as we had come to expect.

The bill was still £50 a head with a tip, but if you stick to the budget version and enjoy the summer pop up offer it would have been half that. I just hope other people come round to Vivek’s point of view.