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Review Recap: Tamarind Tribeca

Today, Sam Sifton gives a much deserved two-star review to Tamarind Tribeca, and you get the sense they were whiskers away from three:

So, have a drink and consider some curry-laced crab cakes and crisp pomegranate samosas, and the promise beyond them of a menu that can take diners across India in the name of flavor, and represent that nation’s varied cuisine with pride and great skill. . . . it is shaping up to be the best thing to happen to Indian food since Hemant Mathur and Suvir Saran opened Devi in 2004.

Unfortunately, this review marked the return of Sam the Incoherent, blessedly absent the last two weeks:

Here, too, is Gary Walia, the restaurant’s manager (nephew to Avtar Walia, the owner), directing his well-trained and helpful staff as if he were conducting an orchestra, greeting guests in the manner of a subcontinental Julian Niccolini, of the Four Seasons restaurant in Midtown.


The bar serves an excellent gin and tonic, cold and tall.

Wow! What an accomplishment that is!

In London, where marvelous Indian food is as much a part of the culinary landscape as French restaurants or steakhouses are here, Tamarind Tribeca might rate a pleasant shrug.


Families are scarce in the dining room — dates, friendships, too. Pressed shirts abound, and wide English ties. Suit jackets are thrown over the backs of chairs and bar stools.

So glad you told us that. You never see suit jackets thrown over the backs of chairs anywhere else. That’s so unusual. Just like those cold gin and tonics you’ve been drinking.

Reader Comments (7)

What is it that you don't understand about the 2 sentences to which you responded "Huh?" Setting aside the question of their relevance, they seem to be "coherent", comprehensible sentences. He is saying that the GM does a good job with his staff and guests, similar to another well-known GM in NYC; and that London (as an example) has enough good restaurants to hypothetically render Tamarind less of a standout than it is here, implying that there is a dearth of quality Indian restaurants in NYC. Is there some lack of clarity that I'm missing?

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

For one thing, I don’t set aside the question of those statements’ relevance. Part of coherence is to write relevant sentences.

If you don’t see the absurdity of comparing just about any maitre d’—and especially this guy—to Julian Niccolini, then I won’t try to explain.

And if he thinks a restaurant that represents India with “great skill” would nevertheless be greeted with a “pleasant shrug” in London, then something is out of whack—either Sifton’s knowledge of great skill in Indian cuisine or his knowledge of London. Maybe both.

August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

Fair enough. If your points are to A) disagree with a comparison of this GM's skill level to another GM's skill level, and B) to question Sifton's knowledge of Indian cuisine and/or London's dining scene, then "incoherent" and "huh" are probably not the right words. The sentences are coherent, you just disagree with their content, which is reasonable.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I must say, you come across as an arrogant bully. Who cares if Sifton is coherent or not. If you find his writing poor, stop reading him.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoe

@joe Yeah right, I’ll bet poor Sifton really feels bullied by little old me. Let’s all cry for him together. He occupies a position of great power in the NYC restaurant market, and therefore, his writing is important (and worth reading), even when it is poor.

@anonymous, if you don’t find anything incoherent about, on the one hand, praising the great skill of the restaurant, but on the other, saying Londoners would greet it with a shrug, then it is clearly beyond my ability to persuade you. The comparison to Niccolini is, I concede, a closer call, and if that had been the only silly comment in the review, I probably would have let it pass.

August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

I don't see anything "incoherent" about it at all. He is stating, whether correctly or not, that there are many restaurants in London which execute Indian food with "great skill", and which, one can gather, would receive 2 or 3 stars from Sifton on a NYT scale. In New York, he is saying that Tamarind and Devi are 2 of the only restaurants which execute at this level. So, were they to be transplanted to London, they wouldn't be as novel in their quality as they are here. It's really not a crazy/incoherent/odd statement.
"There are more great Indian restaurants in London than in NYC."
"There are more great steakhouses in NYC than in London."
There are certainly not many great steakhouses in London, and because of that lack of incumbents, the opening of a high quality steakhouse in London would be more notable in its context than a high quality steakhouse opening in NYC, which most certainly is often greeted with a "shrug" - happens all the time.

August 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Thanks for commenting. We are all entitled to our polite disagreements, and this is one of them.

August 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

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