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Posts from the ‘indian’ Category

Tamarind Tribeca: Ethereal Indian, Moved 30 Blocks Downtown

‘Fancy’ Indian food isn’t for everyone – sometimes, a take-out tub of chicken tikka masala and a thick round of naan to dip messily into everything is just the best way to eat Indian – however, the second location of Flatiron favorite Tamarind does everything in its power to convince its diners that eating Indian in a fine dining environment instead of on your couch is a marvelous idea. And Tamarind-Tribeca resoundingly succeeds in transforming what could be an overly formal interpretation of soulful Indian cuisine into something delicious, elegant, and pleasant.

courtesy of Evan Sung for the New York Times

The new location, on Tribeca’s Hudson Street ‘restaurant row’, is, in one word, colossal. The corner space has soaring ceilings and more than 10,000 square feet of space. The front is glassy and sparkling new; the seamless floor-level ‘retail’ space of an office building. From the outside, it oozes corporate gloss; if you didn’t know a restaurant lay within, it could be a bank. Inside, dining room upon dining room unfolds as you wander further back into the cavern. The design is modern, sleek, and clean – almost impersonal and definitely suited for the slick business clientele that crowds this place after work hours. However, for non-corporate diners, despite the gargantuan size, it’s remarkably easy to fold into one of the comfortable booths and to forget, at least momentarily, the numbers of tables being turned around you. Warm neutral tones envelop the space and a combination of contemporary chandeliers and recessed lighting bathe patrons in an elegant amber glow; surfaces are swathed in smooth teak wood, cool marble, and luxurious fabrics. All in all, dining at Tamarind Tribeca is a well-oiled machine, a peaceful, and pleasant experience.

The food at Tamarind Tribeca is wonderful. Is there anything better than rich, fragrant, and perfectly-executed Indian food? The curries are flavorful, aromatic, textural, and not in the least bit greasy. Particularly marvelous is a ‘fiery’ hot lamb vindaloo that delights, despite inevitably causing sweats and scalding the tongue, and a mellow ‘murgh badami’ or almond-based chicken dish with saffron and sweet golden raisins. The classic chicken tikka masala is one of the best – thick, with a not unsubstantial kick, and fragrant of fenugreek and Indian spices – perfect for sopping up with the ideally crispy and chewy pockets of naan.

Where Tamarind Tribeca really shines though are in the traditional Tandoor dishes. The chicken tikka is moist, tender, and packed with complex flavor; the ‘peshwari boti kabab,’ essentially tandoori marinated lamb is just ridiculously good – spicy, juicy, so tender that you don’t need a knife to cut it apart, and packed with aromatic ginger, chili and garlic – it’s perfect. Other highlights include the special Manchurian cauliflower appetizer in a crusty slick ginger coating, the zesty and texturally-playful Aloo Papri, with crunchy wheat crisps, earthy chickpeas, and zingy tamarind sauce, and the ‘kolambi pola,’ tender cooked shrimp coated in a thick lemongrass and coconut sauce.

In a time when restaurants seem to be getting smaller, noisier, and more casual, Tamarind Tribeca is a wonder – a busy, massive, sophisticated, and expensive temple worshipping classic regional Indian cuisine. It seems to intentionally eschew the trend of kitschy rusticity that’s taking over Manhattan neighborhood-by-neighborhood; instead, it fully embraces the grand moneyed elegance characteristic of the Tribeca area in which it has set up shop. The ideal restaurant to make a splash with clients or to treat out-of-towners to a distinctly New York fine dining experience, Tamarind Tribeca wows with flavorful and not prissy Indian food, gold star service, and a serene sophisticated atmosphere.

Perfect For: taking clients out, fat wallets, Indian food lovers, big groups, showing out-of-towners ‘New York’-y ethnic food, graduation get-togethers

Tamarind Tribeca on Urbanspoon

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Devi: New York Indian Food’s Holy Temple

I have always loved Indian food, from the authentic family-style dishes served in a basement-level restaurant during my childhood to the many varieties available on Campusfood.com in college to fancy schmany Indian fusion scenes in Manhattan. Thus, when I saw that Devi, a restaurant called “perhaps the city’s best Indian restaurant” by Frank Bruni, was participating in restaurant week, it was hard to say no.

Just across the street from Aldea (another favorite!) in Flatiron, this gem of a restaurant is inspired by an Indian family’s personal home and by Hindu temples. The multi-level space is visually stimulating and brightly colored with vibrant red fabrics, rainbow-hued hanging lamps, exotic patterned cushions, and delicate white lattice-work. The lower-level front room is long and narrow with a long row of white-tableclothed tables and tiny bar for serving beverages; the alove/loft dining room is more intimate with peekaboo windows to the room below.

The menu is extensive and overwhelming, stocked with every possible mouthwatering regional Indian and American Masala dish. Expect curries, breads, biryanis, Tandoori-grilled meats, and a plethora of savory vegetarian options. Although my friend Alex and I went there for restaurant week, we were so tantalized by the regular menu that we just ended up ordering from there.

We started out with one of the house specialties, the ‘Manchurian cauliflower.’ This overwhelmingly delicious dish coated plain old cauliflower in a type of sweet & sour sauce, resulting in savory crispy crunchy totally uncauliflower-like nuggets of joy (yes, nuggets of joy). I could have eaten an entire vat of these little marvels.

We then shared the chicken tikka masala, the saag paneer, naan, saffron rice, and an intriguing almost curry-like vegetarian dish. The chicken tikka masala (personally, my favorite Indian dish in spite of how cliche that might seem…) was divine – spicy, creamy, thick, fragrant, and with a generous portion of tender white meat chicken. It was, in short, an amazing break from the mediocre chicken tikka masala that dots Manhattan. The saag paneer, normally not a favorite of mine, added welcome rich and mellow flavors to an otherwise spice-tastic meal. The soft mild cheese and sharp spinach complimented the masala dish perfectly and tasted particularly good piled atop the soft and fluffy naan. Lastly, the vegetarian dish, a kofta, surprised me not only texturally but also in terms of how bold the flavors were. While avoiding vegetarian dishes is typically my MO (risking blandness and texturally-ambiguous faux meats is not my shtick), this play on vegetarian ‘meatballs’ was exciting, tasty, and aromatic. While not necessarily my cup of tea, I can see how it would be truly heavenly for vegetarians.

Devi is an ethnic food wonder: beautifully designed, immensely flavorful authentic food, top-notch white-glove service. Granted, none of this comes cheaply; however, if you’re searching for high-quality Indian in a refined yet relaxed environment, Devi is absolutely worth it. The interactive spicy food and personal environment makes Devi an obvious choice for romantic rendez-vous; and, the elegant peaceful atmosphere offers an ideal locale for an ‘exotic’ dinner with parents, friends, and colleagues.

Devi on Urbanspoon

Tamarind: A Case Study in the Effect of a Restaurant’s Clientele

Last night, I had a borderline miserable experience at a seemingly wonderful restaurant with wonderful company. This was entirely because of the two bizarre parties sitting on either side of me.

To my right sat the singlehandedly most irritating young woman I have encountered since my freshman preview days at Penn. For about 45 minutes straight, she yapped about Ivy League Law Schools and how she didn’t get a good enough LSAT score to get in but she’ll talk her way in, about how long and lovely her companion’s hair was and what sort of conditioner she used, about how she went to such a good school but that her LSAT score doesn’t reflect that, about how wonderful Harvard Law is and she wishes she could go there – all with a shrill sense of Upper East Side pampered rich girl entitlement and no brains. Maybe I sound harsh, but it took all my self-restraint not to approach her and give her a stern talking to about self-esteem and not basing her entire life’s accomplishments on money and a brand name.

To my left sat a strange couple: a pretty middle-aged woman and a goofy looking older man who simultaneously kept telling the woman she was cute and engaging her in arguments. Conversation topics ranged from how tough the New York private school system is to her finger nail polish to how cute the woman is when she eats. Cute, cute, cute.

Needless to say, these two parties managed to color the entire experience in a restaurant known for its subtle and modern interpretation of classical Indian Tandoor cuisine. I was disappointed.

Objectively, the restaurant itself is very serene. White walls, white furniture, and soft white lighting give a sense of peace to the interior. The servers are all quiet, polite, and attentive. Even the bar was tranquil. The entire space smelled deliciously of spices, tantalizing me from the get-go.

The menu is extensive, featuring numerous appetizers, classical Tandoor dishes, and then about 10 dishes each for Chicken, Lamb, Meat, Seafood, and Vegetarian options. In addition, there are six types of rice to choose from as accompaniments to your meal. My boyfriend John and I, both having a penchant for very spicy dishes, selected the Lamb Vindaloo and the Murg Kolapuri. Both were satisfyingly hot, rich, hearty, and subtly seasoned. The Tamarind Basmati rice added even more zest to the ensemble. It was altogether too much food for the both of us, and we ended up leaving quite a bit behind.

Tamarind is ideal for business lunches, family get-togethers, large groups of acquaintences, etc. It is fancy enough to make a good impression and spacious enough to accommodate bigger parties. The food is not only presented impeccably but also very palatable.

Tamarind on Urbanspoon