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Tamarind Kitchen

Restaurants Soho
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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The Soho-based sibling of Mayfair’s Tamarind.

So you’ve heard of Tamarind, the super-fancy Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair. Well this is its younger sister. The vibe is of a fashionable take on a club of the Raj: marble tables, luxurious upholstery and wood panelling, all set to a soundtrack of sultry Bollywood remixes (which later, disappointingly, morph into pointless club music). Lighting is low, with an oil lamp flickering on every table. It would be good for a date: you’ll both look gorgeous.

In keeping with the look, the food is fairly ‘styled’. Most of it is excellent. The first dish to arrive was also the best: a couple of fat, juicy tandoor-grilled prawns, the warmly-spiced marinade mingling with deliciously smoky, charred edges. These were beautiful on their own, but also came with super-sweet kernels of corn, artful blobs of puréed, chilli-spiked red pepper, plus a tumble of micro-herbs. It’s a micro-herb garnish kind of a place. The flavour of the dum gosht biryani (lamb rice in a pot with a pastry lid, to lock the moisture in) was also superb, though the pastry was a little too dense. The tadka dal, though on the thin side, was bursting with cumin and garlic notes. And you know what? An OTT-looking dessert of apple jelly suspended inside an on-its-side-jam-jar, surrounded by blobs of sweetened yoghurt, cherry coulis and chocolate soil, turned out to be lovely.

A few dishes were flawed: okra with spicing but far too much salt, a fish curry that was rich but without complexity. This I could live with. But not Tamarind Kitchen’s lack of charm. Staff are excruciatingly polite, yet insincere. An order was forgotten and then rushed through with excuses, not apologies. I asked for tap water and was given a tiny glass with no refills. Other diners – international, moneyed types – seemed to like the place, but I think if TK could just loosen up, it could go beyond ‘good’, and actually be great.


Address: 167-169 Wardour Street
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Rd
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £110
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