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Tamarind Tribeca

The best place to put a restaurant is where there are already successful restaurants. So when Avatar Walia, owner of the Flatiron Indian restaurant Tamarind, wanted to go way upscale, it’s no surprise he chose Tribeca.

Still, there’s a huge risk here. Tamarind Tribeca is a big-box 11,000-foot bi-level space. Take one look at the build-out (Eater.com has photos), and it’s immediately obvious it wasn’t done on the cheap. With fresh orchids on every table and a service brigade worthy of a three-star restaurant, the operating costs must be substantial.

There’s no reason why such a restaurant cannot work, but I do not recall a successful precedent for Indian food.

I can report, at least, that the food is wonderful, and it is not expensive, in light of the surroundings. Dinner for two was $135 before tip, including two appetizers, two entrées, sides of rice and naan, and a bottle of wine ($45). That’s more than you’d pay at the neighborhood tandoori mill, but Tamarind is much better than that.

I cannot compare this outpost to the Flatiron branch, but the server said the menu here is broader and more ambitious. The Village Voice, in a rave review, reported that the owner “does not employ one executive chef, instead using a team of chefs from various parts of India.”

The Voice thought that “the unusual strategy seems to be working,” and so do we.

Murg Malova ($10; above left). Hunks of chicken packing plenty of heat are seasoned with yogurt, coriander, cream cheese, and caraway seeds, then finished in the tandoor.

Bataki Kosha ($10.50; above right). Duck with mustard, onion, garlic, ginger, and garamasala is wrapped in a rice crepe with black salt and tangerine chutney, and deep fried. I’ve never had an Indian dish like this.

Both of these were large enough to be entrées—especially the duck.

Punjabi Mutton ($23; above left). Goat meat was served with whole spices, tomatoes, onions, ginger, and garlic. Aside from the use of goat—as opposed to the more common chicken or lamb—this dish resembled what you’d get in just about any Indian restaurant in the city. For all that, it was just right. The goat was served on the bone, but separated without difficulty.

Sufiani Machli ($26; above right). We were dumbfounded at the silky tenderness of sea bass, which had somehow survived roasting in the tandoor., then garnished with an intoxicating elixir of hung yogurt, dill, lime zest, and mixed peppercorns.

The server conceded that nobody in India is serving Tandoori Sea Bass. Still, this was the best fish entrée I’ve had all year—the kind of dish you can’t wait to have again.

The wine list is much longer and ambitious than it needs to be. This just might be the only Indian restaurant in town with wines that reach four figures, but there is plenty for those who want to stay under $50, as we did. The service was very close to flawless.

The space looked to be about half full by the time we left, at around 7:30 p.m. on a Friday evening, but Tribeca is a late-arriving crowd. Still, there are a lot of seats here, and they’ll need a lot of repeat business to keep them full.

If every meal at Tamarind Tribeca is as good as ours was, that won’t be a problem.

Tamarind Tribeca (99 Hudson Street at Franklin Street, TriBeCa)

Food: **½
Service: **½
Ambiance: ***
Overall: **½

Reader Comments (6)

Are these your own comments or Village voice's . In other words you get influenced by others than to have an original view of your own. Which high end eatery in New York puts the food in such a shabby manner for a photo and for a diner to pay $130+ dollars .

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoel

Thanks for the comment. The views presented are my own. If you read other reviews on this site, you’ll find plenty of occasions where I disagreed with the critics. On the other hand, if a previous critic has a particularly apt comment, I think it’s polite to give them fair credit.

I am not a professional photographer, and the restaurant did not know that photos would be taken. I shot them at the table, after the plates were delivered. Any flaws the photos may have are my fault, not the restaurant’s.

Except where otherwise stated (and it happens rarely), all of my reviews are of restaurants where I paid full price and did not tell the staff that I would be writing about the meal.

July 10, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

In other words Mr. Shepherd is still an amature. Fine with the diners of Big Apple. Just let us know when you grow up. Till that happens we will value the views of the mainstream blogs.

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMittal

LOL. 99 3/4 percent of diners are “amateurs” by your definition, and I am quite happy to be one of them.

Just let us know when you grow up and learn how to spell: “amature”? In the meantime, do enjoy those mainstream blogs.

July 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

Amateur. So that part u urself accept it is right. Learning a bit of short forms is not a bad idea.

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermittal

You’re a fine one to lecture me on “short forms,” when you cannot write a proper sentence.

The best thing about being a hobbyist is that I work for my own pleasure. I do strive to get better every day and welcome constructive suggestions, but it doesn’t appear that you’re planning to offer any.

July 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

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