Tamarind Takes Flight

| September 19, 2012

The sophomore effort of restaurateur Avtar Walia has significantly raised the bar for the Tamarind brand and added a much needed diversity to the streets of TriBeCa. With 10 years of history operating on 22nd Street, it was time to expand. After serious negotiations to open an onsite restaurant at Las Vegas’s Venetian Hotel, the Walia family decided to keep it local. TriBeCa seemed the logical choice and the doors swung open in April 2010. Now, less than two years later, they are honored by a Michelin star. We decided that it was time to head downtown and take a look around.

Situated in a historically landmarked building on the corner of Hudson and Leonard, this urban chic haven plays host to locals, tourists and    the    occasional     celebrity.   It   is   not uncommon to stumble on TriBeCa local David Schwimmer and most recently it was Tyra Banks who was spotted enjoying the crafts of the extremley talented and well trained staff.  With 13,000 square feet and 24 foot ceilings, interior designer Wid Chapman had the ultimate blank canvas. The custom made chandeliers and table settings down to the choice of fabrics have a profound impact on the dining experience and give the restaurant a very dignified air. With the addition of a mezzanine level seating area and a private dining room, Tamarind is at the ready for any event.

Gary Walia, the charismatic general manager of the Tamarind brand, happens to be a commercially licensed jet pilot. This is just one of many talents bestowed upon this Renaissance man. Serious about every detail of this establishment, there is no doubt that he is the captain of this operation.

The cuisine is multi-regional and diverse. Most importantly, fresh is the name of the game. Nothing is pre-cooked and it shows. We paved the way with a Rosemary Lillet Martini and Lychee Daiquiri. This tantalized our tastebuds and prepared us for take off. We jetted down the runway with an amuse-bouche consisting of a tomato and mozarella pastry, served with a ginger yogurt chutney. This was quickly followed by Murg Malai Kabab (chicken marinated in hung yogurt, corriander, cream cheese and caraway seeds finished in the tandoor) which was served with a strawberry coulis and Chimbori Jalwa (crabmeat with Madras curry powder, ginger, garlic, green chiles and scallions.) An excellent and culinarily sophisticated start for what was promising to be a smooth and scenic flight.

With the delivery of the entrees it became apparent that we had indeed reached our cruising altitude and settled in for a plethora of taste sensations. The main course started with the Tandoori Chaamp (lamb chops marinated in yogurt, cardamom, garlic, royal cumin seeds and nutmeg) and a sumptuous preparation of Chilean Sea Bass. The sea bass, although expertly prepared and delicious, was hard pressed to compete with the treasures coming forth from the twin tandoor ovens. Cleverly housed in a glass viewing booth, these traditional cooking vessels rage at 700 degrees. To say that these meats are tender and delicious would be an understatement. This is the real deal! The heat for a tandoor is traditionally generated by a charcoal or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, exposing the food to both live-fire and hot-air convection cooking. However, charcoal and wood cooking are not allowed in New York City, so the ingenious team at Tamarind use clove smoke to add what is lost from gas generated flames. The results speak for themselves. After relaxing and enjoying the scenery, we touched down for a very smooth landing with the goat cheese crème brûlée and a trio of homemade sorbets.

To compete with the likes of neighbors such as Nobu, TriBeCa Grill and Mr. Chow, you better have a solid product. Tamarind has certainly earned its wings.