Tamarind Bay Coastal Cuisine in Brookline - Why all the hate?
So I got a restaurant.com gift certificate to Tamarind Bay Coastal Cuisine in Brookline, thinking mostly that it was the same as the Tamarind Bay in Cambridge. Then I got on to CH and read thread after thread saying that it's a horrible place with horrible food and even worse service. Dreading all of this, I put it off more and more until I just wanted to get rid of it! And so I headed off this past Friday night with the wife - and made sure not to tell her the bad reviews...
We went in, and all of the tables were taken - except for two which had seats for 4. The host asked us to take a seat at the bar while the table would be prepared. We thought it would be one of those tables, but instead they waited for another table to leave. While it did take only about 5 minutes, it was a little weird. Bad start, I thought.
Once we sat down, we were offered some pappadum - of which I'm usually a big fan. Here, though, it was very greasy and not offered with the usual iddli. Getting worse.... but that was where the bad ended and the great started! We ordered three dishes - what we usually do at most "ethnic" restaurants (enjoy what you can, take the rest for lunch the next day!). We got the chicken biryani, saag gosht (lamb in spinach), and Royal Paneer Passanda (Indian cheese stuffed with nuts and raisins in a cashew sauce). The food came out after about 10 minutes, which went by pretty fast with the Taj Mahal beer. And the food was great!
The chicken biryani came with a small yogurt sauce, and was topped with fried onions, loaded with lots of chicken chunks and was really flavourful. The only thing I would have added to it is nuts and raisins, but I think that that's more of a regional thing. The chicken was moist, not dry, and included both breast and leg pieces without bone. The only drawback was that the rice was a little clumpy in parts. The saag gosht was top-notch, with great quality spinach and wonderful lamb. It was equally spicy and flavourful at the same time. Just great! And then the passanda. I've never heard of this dish before, but it knocked me out!! The cheese was nice and all, but the sauce was awesome. It tasted like a satay sauce with kick, a little spicy and quite creamy. The only problem I had was that the cheese things began to fall apart near the end of the meal, but didn't really care.
All in all, we ended up with enough food to have lunch the next day and it ended up costing around $45 without the drinks or tip. Not bad for a great meal, with leftovers at that. And the service? It was friendly, not rushed, and pleasant. We decided at the end of the night that Tamarind Bay would be our new go-to Indian near home, especially since Rani has been sliding of late. JP still has some wonderful choices and all (Ghazal comes to mind, among others) and are definitely cheaper, but this is great food, with good quality ingredients, and its close to home. Win-win in my opinion.
I love Tamarind Bay Coastal Kitchen. A friend from London added it to our dining roster and we've thanked him heartily. He rates the chef with some of his favorite's in London and was so happy to find great Indian food here.
We had two appetizers, grilled scallops and the minced lamb kabobs. (Loved the spicy lamb!) We followed with the Butter Chicken Curry and the tandoori salmon. Then we ordered a Chicken Biryani to go so we could taste it and have something for lunch the following day.
The Butter Chicken was recommended by another friend and is addictive. The salmon was very good but could have been rarer for my husband's taste. It was moist and had great flavor. I liked it as it was.
We really enjoyed their bread - it was lighter and more flavored than most.
I also enjoyed the clean look and the serene feeling of the dining room. It was a completely enjoyable meal. And, they have some decent wine options on the list.
The food has been quite good both times I've been there, most memorable were the shrimp in coconut milk, the cabbage patties appetizer, and an okra dish. Service has been iffy though, and some of the seating might leave you with a constant stream of diners bumping against you. But neither of these complaints would deter me from returning.