Restaurant Review: Tamarind of Mayfair, Queen St in London
Dining at Indian restaurants always excites me but dining at a Michelin star Indian restaurant? Well that’s just the icing on the cake!
Tamarind, in London’s upmarket Mayfair district, was the first of its kind to gain the prestigious award and remains one of only 9 in the world to hold the accolade.
Personally I like the variety of Indian cuisine and I was really interested to see how Tamarind could uplift your classic chicken tikka masala to Michelin star level. I visited one Saturday lunchtime with my guest, Nick, and we were guided to the open plan downstairs dining room to take our seats among the elegant white, brown and metallic décor.
We were soon brought a selection of popadoms to sample, which were accompanied with delicious hot, sweet and fruity chutneys. Nick and I glanced at the menu, which offered a selection of speciality dishes (not your typical 100 plus dish offering) and were swiftly told by our waiter that he would bring us a selection of the best – fine by us!
For our starter we enjoyed the mixed kababs consisting of a lamb tikka chop, scallop with mary chutney and mixed roasted pepper, tiger prawn and chicken. All the meats on the plate were of high quality and were tender, plump and juicy. I am not normally a fan of lamb but this chop was delicious – it was cooked through and tasted wonderful. The scallop came with a fruity warm chutney while the chicken was well paired with a mint dip and all were thoroughly enjoyed by us both. We were also brought a papdi chaat – a chickpea, yogurt, wheat crisp, tamarind chutney and blueberry dish and both loved its cool, crispy, gentle and refreshing textures and flavours. Nick described this as an unsung hero.
Next up were our main courses where we were brought a selection of dishes to keep us fed for days! Among others was a malabar prawn, which consisted of tiger prawns with sautéed onions, chilli, fenugreek seeds and coconut. The lightly spiced sauce was very tasty and complemented the delicate prawns well.
The murgh makhni (chicken tikka) with fresh tomato sauce with ginger and dried fenugreek leaves was also lightly spiced and the darker meat was tender. We also sampled a kadhi gosht, which consisted of lamb with peppers, onions, crushed coriander and cumin alongside a gucchi kofta – vegetable dumplings in a sauce of onions, melon seeds and yogurt. The lamb was dark, dense, rich and flavoursome while the dumplings were delicious and plump with a great little kick to them. All of this was accompanied by sag aloo, dal tadka, a bread basket, papdi chaat (we weren’t giving this away) and saffron rice. Yes, all of that! The sag aloo – potatoes with cumin, garlic and spices with puréed spinach – had a lovely deep flavour while the dal tadka – yellow lentils with ginger, tomato, green chilli and fresh coriander – were full of flavour and colour, although not my favourite dish. The bread basket consisted of a date, coconut and poppy seed naan and a cheese and coriander paratha. The thin and lightly toasted naan was my favourite with its fruity middle being well matched with the sweet coconut and I thoroughly enjoyed the saffron and white pilau rice with its lovely, light texture.
We made our way through each dish the best we could and enjoyed the great variety of flavours and the beautiful colours and presentation on each dish. It was fun to try such a wide range of dishes prepared so beautifully. Despite consuming enough food to feed a small family for a week, we didn’t stop there, we had dessert to fit in. again we were brought a small selection of desserts to try, which highlighted some of best the Tamarind offers on its menu. We very much enjoyed our plate of mango kulfi, pistachio kulfi, milk dumpling and carrot cake with carrot fudge. The pistachio ice cream was intensely creamy, thick, smooth and tasty, while the mango was similar in texture yet more refreshing and also very tasty. The dumpling was dense yet light, plump, syrupy and gorgeous and the cake was light, moist, airy and dense but not heavy. As with all foods sampled during this meal, the desserts offered an incredible array of colour, taste and texture to delight the senses.
In a nutshell
A top class eatery serving traditional Moghul cuisine with meats cooked in the tandoor oven style of North India. Tamarind brings together traditional meats and styles of cookery and uplifts it to Michelin star quality level. I really couldn’t fault the food and every Indian meal I have from now on will be compared to this meal and I’m not sure if anything can come close.
Address: 20 Queen St, London W1J 5PR / 020 7629 3561