In this solo dining adventure, Gary is treated to lunch at Tamarind Tribeca for his birthday.
I love my birthday – since it falls in the middle of August, it’s essentially a three-week celebration from the weekend prior and extending all the way until Labor Day. Why the lengthy celebration? Well, it’s near the end of summer so I never manage to have a real party until many weeks later (usually around Labor Day weekend) and the celebrating always starts a few days before it since that’s the way my family likes to do it. Add in all the different friends who want to take me out to a nice meal and it’s hard to argue that I don’t live a somewhat charmed existence.
One such meal was being treated to lunch at Tamarind Tribeca by my friend Lucy. Part birthday celebration, part thank you for doing her taxes (I’m surprisingly adept at navigating the United States tax code) – all awesome sauce on her part. Her actual suggestion was to “go big and aim for… something trendy-ish.” Well, Tamarind Tribeca had just gotten the Sifton seal of approval so I guess that works. Also in its favor was a pretty good prix fixe menu for lunch so that made it an easy choice.
Our method attack with this prix fixe menu was simple – three choices for the appetizer (one being the soup of the day so we passed on it) and two for the dessert so we each chose a different one and five choices for the main course from which we could each choose two. So, basically, of the ten dishes available to us across three courses, we ended up trying eight – a perfect way to get a good representation of their lunch menu.
Before our first course came out, we were presented with this nice little salad with puffed, crispy rice and some diced up vegetables. A nice crunchy, spicy, acidic start to our meal.
The two appetizers on the menu were the Khatta Meetha Paneer, a crisp paneer medallion on top of a sweet and sour chili sauce, and the Lasuni Jhinga, a trio of pan-seared prawns. The paneer medallions were terrific – crispy and a nice kick from the chili sauce and the garlic chutney in the middle. The prawns were overcooked a little but the spicy, tomato-based sauce slathered on it was a nice touch.
On my plate (top photo) is Anar Aur Pudine Ke Tikke (left), tandoor finished chicken with a yogurt sauce, and Gosht Kali Mirch (top), lamb in a black peppercorn-based sauce. On Lucy’s plate (bottom photo) is Bharwan Bhindi (left), stuffed okra, and Ajwaini Machli (top), tandoor roasted salmon. The chicken was the best of the four choices as it was tender, juicy, with the pomegranate/yogurt sauce lending a nice, creamy, refreshing flavor. The lamb, sadly, was most definitely overcooked, making it a little tough to eat and it wasn’t helped by the somewhat restrained spiciness in the sauce. The stuffed okra was good with nice flavor imparted on it from the garam masala and mango but really messy in appearance. The salmon was slightly overcooked but I really liked the char on the surface from the tandoor.
Accompanying our main courses were the obligatory side of nan (can’t really eat Indian food without the nan!) and bowl of potatoes and peas. The nan was served warm and – always a good sign – with a pool of butter spread out on top. The potatoes and peas were a surprise and was definitely one of the better parts of our meal.
For desert, we had the Passion Fruit Sorbet and the Fresh Mango Shrikhand. The passion fruit sorbet was really clean and refreshing, letting the tart, sweet passion fruit flavor shine. The fresh mango shrikhand, a strained yogurt dessert, had excellent mango flavor, both from the diced fresh mango and in the yogurt. My only problem with it was that the yogurt was really dense, making it a lot to take in though it was helped somewhat by the textural contrast the chopped pistachios lent it.
The best way to describe our meal at Tamarind Tribeca would be good but somewhat restrained. It’s great to be eating some very tasty Indian food at what is easily the best looking Indian place I’ve ever eaten in (it should be noted I have yet to eat at Tabla) but it seemed like the food was catered to the sort of clientele that would visit such a nice place – in other words, the sort of folks who might not be inclined to have their foods be as spicy as we would have preferred. Again, the food is good, nicely presented, and most definitely a good value at $24.50 per person. I just wished they’d be a little heavier-handed with the spices.