I’ve been meaning to try Tamarind for quite some time now, so when I only decided to do one restaurant week meal (initially – this has since changed, I must confess), I decided this would be my one. They were only doing lunch, so Jenn and I chose to come here on a Sunday. I’ll admit, it was kind of odd to be out at a brunch-ish hour and not be enjoying brunch fare, but we quickly forgot that as the meal progressed. I recommend their cockail menu – well thought out and innovative. I had their spin on a cosmo, which included tamarind. The tamarind added an interesting sweet spice to it. Delicious.
For appetizers, there were four possible selections. One was their soup of the day. There was also Pathar Kabab – roasted lamb marinated with yogurt, poppy seeds, cashew nuts, papaya, and red chili. Then there was the Tiranga Salad – spinach, beets, apple, mango, and cherry tomatoes, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and ricotta cheese. Something though about a salad at an Indian restaurant felt like I wasn’t maximizing my options. I went with the Tamarind Jhinga – shrimp sautéed with tamarind sauce, served on grilled tomato flatbread. The shrimp was very flavorful – just a tiny bit spicy. The flatbread was an interesting addition – by the time it arrived, I’d forgotten the dish would be served on flatbread. It almost looked like a slightly baked sauce. It was a milder accompaniment to the shrimp. I wouldn’t have minded this in a meal-sized portion.
For the main course, we were each able to choose two out of listing of five dishes. It sounded like it could be a ridiculous amount of food, until it arrived and we saw it was a reasonable portion of each. It was also nice to see the rice portion reasonable as well (it made me realize just how much you get at most places – woah). There was the Chowrangi Murgh – boneless chicken flavored with sesame seeds, red chili, and lemon juice, with a tomato barbecue sauce. Or the Bombay Machli – Red snapper fillet marinated in olive oil, lemon juice coated with peanuts, coconut, and tomato sauce. Or there was the Rajasthani Lal-Mass – Lamb cooked in yogurt, crushed black pepper, rice vinegar and mustard oil, with a mango and mint chutney. They also had two vegetarian options: (1) Bhari Mirch – Indian pepper filled with seasoned potato and mushrooms, with a yogurt, onion, and tomato sauce; and (2) Methi Paneer – Fresh fenugreek leaves and paneer cooked in onions, tomato, garlic, ginger. I went with the Bombay Machli based on our server’s recommendation as well as the Rajasthani Lal-Mass. I have to say, I enjoyed the snapper the best. It was light, flavorful, and slightly flaky. The lamb was a bit heavier than I like, although it was nicely seasoned and the portion size was perfect.
For dessert, we had our choice of toasted coconut rice pudding and Black Forest cake – and we opted to try one of each. The rice pudding was actually served warm, a welcomed change from the standard cold version found Indian restaurants, especially in February. The coconut gave it an interesting flavor as well usually not present, instead using coconut milk in the preparation.
I was intrigued to try the Black Forest Cake because, well, because I didn’t expect to see it on the menu at an Indian restaurant. It was lighter than usual, which made for a nice ending after all of the food. I’d give the edge to the coconut rice pudding but, to be honest, you’ll likely never see me heavily frown on anything involving chocolate.
The service was impeccable – our server was well-versed in everything on the menu, as should be the case. I’ll definitely be back to check out more of their menu in the future.
Tamarind – 41-43 East 22 Street – 212.674.7400