Tamarind Kitchen

Restaurants Soho
3 out of 5 stars
5 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.

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Tamarind Kitchen
Contact:
Address: 167-169 Wardour Street
Soho
London
W1F 8WR
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Rd
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £110
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Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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tastemaker

Beautifully decorated inside, this place is really special. We sat downstairs having walked in off the street without reservation. We were sat at the bar for our meal but the bar was designed for dining and had plenty of space.

The cocktails were incredible, a little bit different with chillies and spice, I highly recommend them (approx £9.50 each).

The menu was interesting with a hint of traditional British Indian curries but some very special unique items.

I’m a vegetarian so it was nice to see some good veggie options in there although I still felt the meat options were that little bit more special! My veggie meatball curry was a little more sweet than I’d have liked and the Tadka Dal has too much cumin for my taste but the Sag Paneer was the best I’ve ever tasted and my boyfriends lamb dish was (apparently) stunning!

The atmosphere in there was lovely and we will definitely be back.

Tastemaker

I'm not the biggest fan of Indian food, but I had a friend who found out about the soft launch and was very excited about it. An offshoot of the Michelin-star awarded Tamarind restaurant in Mayfair, I had a certain expectation going in. As it was the first day of their soft launch, they were still getting a lot of things together, but the service was top notch, and the waiters were very friendly. In addition, there was a very nice, grand atmosphere to the whole place, feeling something like an ancient palace, along with a projection of old Bollywood films on the wall near the stairs. Inexplicably though, midway through the meal the lights in the restaurant all dimmed, how am I supposed to take nice photos for Instagram like that? Nonetheless, we ordered our food. If it were full price, the kebabs would have been a little steep in price for my liking, with just three pieces of meat for 12.50. At the same time though, it's some quality meat (we tried the fish platter and the game meat), both platters were full of flavour and very well spiced, going well with the mint sauce on the side. We also ordered the lamb biryani, thankfully, nothing else, because the biryani was very filling! Coming served in a puff pastry, it was certainly a different way of seeing biryani served, and was a delicious main we shared between us. Don't be fooled by how small it looks; the rice quickly fills you up, and thankfully, is tasty to boot, going with the lamb curry and yogurt on the side. We ended off our meal with the pistachio and mango kulfis, which were sweet and full of flavour. At full price, this restaurant would be a little steep, and most of the main dishes don't even come with rice or naan, things that should be standard for Indian restaurants (and they're quite pricey too). But I enjoyed coming down during the soft launch, and I think that it definitely showcases the quality Tamarind has become known for. Just come in expecting the bill to be quite high.