After living in London for 8 years, I have finally gone and bought myself a bike. Well, I bought myself a beautiful new bike and used it for 3 days before it broke. So for the last 2 weeks I have been racing around the city the bike of the guy that sold it to me while he fixes it. And it seems I have a few things to learn. Mainly how to actually ride it on London streets. Last night I was on my way to Tamarind in Mayfair when I not only cut up a rollerblader (who rollerblades in Central London in the dark anyway?!) and clipped his boot as he was whizzing by, but dropped my bike (and fell with it) onto the street and almost onto a Porsche, right outside the Michelin starred restaurant I was visiting.
Luckily no one saw me and I managed to hide my helmet in my bag before venturing into the restaurant and being greeted by the reception staff. I was taken downstairs to my table and seated next to the glass fronted kitchen looking out into the restaurant. I waited for my friend to arrive and took advantage of the poppadoms and homemade mango, tomato and gooseberry chutneys while waiting.
When my friend arrived we started with a glass of champagne and browsed the menu. We took a while to decide and in the end asked the waiter suggested a few dishes for us. He decided to offer us a selection of four appetisers – Grilled Scallops, Gilafi Reshmi – skewered ground chicken kebab, Pudhina Chops – lamb cutlets and what I am told is a signature dish, Papdi Chaat – spiced chickpeas, while-wheat crisps, mint chutney and sweetened yoghurt topped with blueberries and tamarind chutney.
The knife glided through the scallop and it was so soft that it almost dissolved in my mouth as soon as I started chewing. The lamb chop was tender and had subtle hints of ginger and turmeric. The chicken kebab was so tender and delicious and I was left wanting another piece. The papdi chat was a delight – sweet and savoury and perfect for cooling after eating the spicy meat.
For main, we were served Tali Macchi – Pan-fried fillet of sea bass with fine beans and raw mango on a sauce of tomato with mustard, curry leaves and coconut. Now, I’m not normally a fan of ordering fish in an Indian restaurant but I knew Tamarind couldn’t possibly disappoint. And it didn’t. The sea bass was perfectly cooked and accompanied perfectly by saffron rice and an utterly unforgettable stuffed naan with date, coconut and poppy seeds.
We also tucked into Rogan Josh and Awadi Murgh – boneless chicken in an aromatic sauce with melon seeds, yoghurt and spices and I spent the last few moments with the dishes mopping up the delectable sauces with the naan.
By the time we had finished mains we were full – very full. But the waiter asked if we wanted dessert. How could I not want a dessert? So without even looking at the menu I asked if they had my favourite Indian dessert – Gulab Jamun, a dumpling of unsweetened reduced milk with almond flakes. Whenever I have this dish I am in heaven and Tamarind’s version was no exception. Lip smackingly good.
I have long been a fan of Indian cuisine and the setting for last night’s meal may have been a little posher than I’m used to and a bit more on the expensive side but we were in there for 2 hours and it seemed like half an hour. They say time flies when you’re having fun. It was the perfect setting for a girly meal and we left, tummies full, content and with lasting memories… Even if I did feel like a bit of an idiot unchaining my bicycle from the post next to the Porsche outside.
20 Queen St
020 7629 3561