Tamarind in Mayfair: A luxurious and original Indian experience
Tamarind offers a luxurious Indian experience in the heart of London’s prestigious Mayfair. The first culinary venture hailing from this region to win a Michelin star in the city, it closed last May to undergo extensive refurbishment. The long structural works, together with a change of chef, mean that they’ll have to wait another year to try and regain the coveted accolade. Given the impressive new interiors, it goes without saying that we were really excited to check out Tamarind and its tasting menu. The final result is far from disappointing, and indeed, with Karunesh Khanna and Manav Tuli now at the helm, we reap the extremely pleasing rewards of their talents in action.
The dishes are crafted using all kinds of cooking processes. From sigree grills to tandoor ovens and stir-frying techniques, the tools – strategically positioned in the open kitchen – open up an endless number of texture and intensity combinations, without any of the produce suffering from the greasiness or heaviness that we would often associate with some Indian food. On the contrary, the plates are complex and fresh, characterised by a mixture of spices and excellent ingredients.
Mixologist Carole Brown has contributed her creativity in the overall journey. Her experience managing Hakkasan’s bar and the time at Park Chinois crystallise in a beautiful combo of explosive and surprisingly different concoctions. From among them, we had the chance to try two of their signatures: the Tamarind Cup and the Bengal Punch, two great accompaniments for the courses that came right after, and a nice warm-up for the wine selection. The presentation is nothing less than impressive, the drinks served up with flowers, petals and beautiful pots – yet another element that makes the cocktails unique and enjoyable.
The menu is split into small plates; grills; stir-fries; vegetarian dishes; curry and biryani; and the sides, composed of bread and rice. A broad offering for all tastes.
We started off the food menu with some light papaya and mango cucumber salad followed by a pair of incredibly fresh and tasty griddled scallops sitting on fennel and green apple, spiced lentil and curry leaf sauce. Despite the apparent strength of these ingredients, the balance achieved between them and the fish was just right.
We combined the fresher starters with some Unplugged riesling and a glass of chardonnay. Right after finishing them off, we jumped straight into the grills: a series of (mostly) meaty dishes. From the unique and delicious Rabbit Seekh Kebab, presented in a short tube with a centre made of dried tomato (a must-try in the menu) to Char-Grilled Lamb Chops with Pistachio Crust and Ginger Chicken Tikka, the best thing about these plates were their original twists and the tenderness of every bite. Truly a delight for the senses.
We topped this off with some coconut and chilli sea bass, uplifting and spicy. On the side, we also enjoyed some grilled asparagus with generous tomato chutney – tender and light as an accompaniment – as well as a couple of glasses of red: a Mountain Red, lighter and fruitier, and a Pago de Los Cappellans Crianza blend, both from 2015.
We couldn’t leave the table without trying one of the most traditional dishes, the Chettinad Chicken Biryani, consisting of curry leaf-flavoured chicken chunks with yellow, slow-cooked basmati rice, covered with a puff pastry, soufflé style. With a strong saffron flavour, the plate was exquisitely simple.
To finish off the night we were served two desserts: the chocolate tart and the fennel cake – a mix of familiar concepts and Indian ingredients. The winner? The cake without a doubt, offering everything you want in a cake, spongy in texture and moist inside, with a fairly distinctive fennel flavour. A great ending to a delicious (and very filling) dinner.
Tamarind is the perfect destination for a refined palate, providing an ideal evening for any lovers of Indian food. Those seeking originality within an elegant environment are sure to leave this restaurant with a smile on their faces.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Tamarind, 120 Queen Street Mayfair London W1J 5PR, call 020 7629 3561 or visit their website here.