Boston Restaurant Blog -- January, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
When Casa Mexico closed in Cambridge's Harvard Square several years back, I was pretty sad, since the basement spot was one of my personal favorites, and one that I went to with a variety of friends and family. But the hurt was lessened somewhat when I heard that the eatery that replaced it--an Indian spot called Tamarind Bay--was getting some really good reviews. Well, oddly enough, I still haven't gotten to the place since they opened in the old Casa Mexico spot, but I was able to check out their newer sister restaurant, an eatery called Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen, in Brookline recently, and the experience was a terrific one overall.
Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen, which is located in the Washington Square section of Brookline, has a rather upscale and trendy feel to it. The soft glow of the backlit bar along the right wall and the circular recessed ceiling section dominate the space, which also has a number of traditional Indian art pieces along the walls. The left side of the room includes a long bench seat, while most of the rest of the space has tables for two to four diners each. A mix of mostly chic music plays through the speakers, adding to the sleek overall vibe of the restaurant.
While the Brookline location of Tamarind Bay focuses on coastal cuisine from India, this doesn't mean that the menu focuses completely on seafood. But it was a slightly different looking menu from what you might see at most other Indian restaurants in the Boston area, with no sign of such dishes as chicken saag, lamb vindaloo, or dosas. There are a few popular Indian dishes on the menu, however, and we decided to try a mix of familiar and not-so-familiar items. We started with an appetizer called tandoori hara aloo, which consisted of baby potatoes stuffed with a mild cheese, nuts, raisins, and bell peppers. The smokiness of this dish was wonderful, with the tandoori oven imparting a lot of flavor into the potatoes. Soup was also ordered, and the cilantro chicken shorba may have been the highlight of the entire meal, as the bright flavors of the cilantro and lemon went perfectly with the cumin-flavored broth, and the slightly hard and rough composition of the chicken bits added some nice texture to the soup. The basket of plain paratha had some nicely charred pieces and a crispness not always found with this type of bread. Along with our starters, we were also given some addictive "chips" made of lentil and rice flour, and served with plum sauce and mint-cucumber sauce (I could have eaten the chips all night). For our meals, we tried a particularly rich (and slightly hot) chicken tikka masala and a warm and spicy matki dum murgh. The tomato cream sauce that came with the tikka masala was one of the best I have tried in the Boston area, though the mint, onion, mace, and cardamom-based sauce that came with the matki dum murgh was marred a bit by an excessive oiliness that came close to overpowering the cubes of chicken (though the curry was indeed delicious and aromatic). For drinks, we had a Kingfisher (terrific barley taste and little bitterness) as well as a warming and mild malbec.
While perhaps not the best Indian meal I've had over the past year (that would probably have to go to the superb Kabob and Curry in Providence), we were certainly impressed by what we had at Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen. There are a number of other dishes I saw on their menu that I would like to try (including a slightly scary-sounding "aloo capsicum"), so another trip to this upscale spot in Washington Square will certainly be in the cards over the coming months.
For those who want the address for Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen in Brookline, here it is: Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen, 1665 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA, 02445. The phone number is (617) 277-1752.
I live a couple blocks from Tam Bay and find it decent but fairly pricey for Indian.
Posted on 1/20/11
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