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Tamarai

Pan-Asian Restaurant in London

Tamarai, 167 Drury Ln, London, WC2B 5PG
020 7831 9399    Email    Website   
This restaurant is now closed
This restaurant is now closed
Harden's Survey Result
Overall Value
out of 5
Food 
Service 
Ambience 
2012 Review: A “trendy”-looking Indian basement, in Covent Garden; some reporters love its “darkly atmospheric” style, “clubby” atmosphere, and “interesting” dishes – critics, however, “just do not understand the fuss”.
Features
Last Orders 11 pm
The Editors Review

The signs were not good. From Tamarai's web site I learnt that "Like the lotus flower' the venue transforms into magical moods and multiple modes at different times. Designed as a hybrid hub it ' re-invents itself seamlessly". When somewhere's home page reads like an entry in Private Eye's 'Pseud's Corner', the cooking is seldom hot property.


So it was that I found myself (alone) at lunchtime in this just-opened Covent Garden basement, entered down a maze of passages and stairs. Had the venue reinvented itself seamlessly for lunchtime I would have been grateful. But it looked tailormade as an evening hang out to me, with its loungey bar areas, chilled out background beats, black walls (with back-lit panels shifting in colour), and flat screen TVs showing trippy animations of the lotus symbol.


It looked just like the kind of self-consciously hip spot where -- unless it's Hakkasan or Mint Leaf -- the food can play a poor second fiddle. But, like the charming (if slightly amateurish) service, the food came as a pleasant surprise. Spicy veggie dumplings to start and a tofu in spicy batter main were full of bright, oriental flavours. Despite fond childhood memories of the Milky Bar kid, white chocolate puddings are so often disappointing. Here, though, a white chocolate semifreddo had enough "bite" to maintain interest through the whole portion.


The portion in question was a dainty one though. In fact, without pudding, I would have emerged from the restaurant ravenous, which for a £40 lunch isn't really good enough. Mindful of the fact that this column has been stuck on three-star-ratings for a fair few reviews now, it would be nice to award four stars. But though the quality of Manish Mehrotra's cooking might merit them, the portion-sizes at my lunch certainly did not.


See the Review
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