Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Tamarind


Jason Perlow
 Share

Recommended Posts

Even among thieves, I understand some honor is expected.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suvir;My apologies for offending you so,but I wasn't attempting to compare apples and oranges.I've seen all kinds of abusive situations in this business,and don't justify any of them;Immigrants without papers being paid criminally low wages,bouncing checks,unpaid purveyors,people on set salary working extra shifts without compensation.Hence,the high burn out rate-people leaving the profession,feeling unappreciated and bone tired.I just have some personal frustrations with the internship situation in restaurants,and maybe aired them in the wrong place and time....but no worry,I have a sense of humor about all of this,and hey,I'm off to work a 15 hour shift today!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wingding,

No apologies needed. You did not offend me.  I realize I had not made myself clear.

I have worked for a pittance at an 18 hour a day job.  But it was out of my own choice.  I was overworked, underpaid and abused to the hilt, but I was not scared of it for I wanted it and I was not harassed or blackmailed.

Was I teased, ragged, tested?  Yes.

I realized that we were talking of very different situations.

And thus was not offended... I wanted to simply know if you think such blackmailing, threatening and harassment is endemic all across the restaurant world.

In my own restaurants we always had interns... working for free from schools and colleges... and they were overworked and the chef and his team took great pleasure in giving them more and more work.  While the paid staff got at least some breaks... these young trainees were challenged to the very last second of their loooong shift.

But they did not have to worry about someone threatening to expose them to the INS for they knew their paperwork was false, or to stop paying for their INS processing for work permit etc... Or to hold their payment unless they worked double shifts each day.  Those are practices that I do not find ethical.

Have a nice day at your job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Suvir,

             In my opinoin I have never come across a more biased person in my life . I think you might do much better as a PR consultant than an athourity on food because closely looking at all your posts, I feel that you cant get over Surbhi and Hemant mathur and how bad Indian food is in New York yet you keep going back for more ,so its no surprise that you get the treatment you get. I have nothing to do with Tamarind just someone who enjoys dining there and by the way why dont surbhi (who ever she is ?) and Hemant try opening a restaurant if they are so talented im sure they with all your help will find a sponsor.I promise ill go there and give you my unbiased opinion as a regular person who loves food .Till then try to learn about Indian cuisine as its too vast to be mastered in a life time .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

mikemkie:

I'm glad you posted again, but I don't see any substance to your post, just more ad-hominem attacks. Since you feel you know much more than Suvir about Indian cuisine, it would be nice if you shared your knowledge with us. Also, what Indian restaurants in the 5 boroughs do you like, other than Tamarind? Do you have an opinion about Banjara, for example? What about restaurants in Jackson Heights? Any favorite South Indian places? I do hope you'll answer.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Pan--perhaps he could answer the questions I asked as well, which were ignored:

"do you feel Tamarind has evolved or changed at all since it opened?  Has the food and service, in your opinion, remained constant and at a high level from day one until today?

Did you have any meals there that were at all inconsistent? The reason I ask is that I've long admired Raji Jallepalli and wonder how a restaurant--any restaurant--could overcome the loss of such a talent without missing any beats?"

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mikemkie, regarding your recent Dear Suvir post, did you mean to post this in a public forum, or send it to Suvir privately? It seems clear to me that you're not interested in discussing food, nor do you appear to be interested in offering us any insight into why you like Tamarind. You've expressed the thought that you like the restaurant earlier and now you're expressing disrespect for Suvir, but once again all we know is that you base this on his comments about Tamarind. I'm almost ready to believe you secretly want to hurt Tamarind's reputation. By not answering Suvir's criticism or anyone else's questions, you offer the impression that you can't defend Tamarind. That might be read as an admission he's correct and that will not make you popular at Tamarind if they know of this thread. As you don't seem keen on discussing food, may I ask how you found eGullet.com?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just an observation:

In my opinoin I have never come across a more biased person in my life .

If it walks like a troll, smells like a troll and acts like a troll, it probably is a troll.  Troll, as in someone who haunts the Internet and web discussion groups and posts inflammatory statements with the intention of spiteful or malicious verbal attacks which have no bearing on the discussion at hand.  And while mikemkie is the most obvious example of such, there are one or two other posters on this site who spring immediately to mind.

Suvir et al.:  Sounds like I have to revisit Tabla one of these days, and also not when they're doing Restaurant Week.  Any recommendations?

There's a place across the street from my apartment building on 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd.  The name of it escapes me at the moment, but there's a yellow-gold awning on the front with reddish lettering.  I've only been there once, but their breads (in particular, their naan and poori) are excellent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could you mean Baluchis?

Also Bukhara Grill is nice as well.  49th between 2/3.

I would say have dinner there... visit the bread bar for more simpler Indian fare.  Upstairs for the fusion food.

Try the Kulfi for dessert.  Used to be very good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I mean Amma.  And, I will say that the room and layout is quite nice -- tables aren't too close, lighting is muted, etc.

Their rogan josh is not overwhelmingly spicy as in other places -- I could actually TASTE what I was eating.

Isn't their a saying about too much pepper I've heard about from somewhere?  "Too much pepper catches the throat."  Or something like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I've wanted to try Tamarind for a while, and finally paid my first visit last week. I had read favorable reviews and found the ambience quite attractive from a few glances while walking by. It's more modern, upscale and pleasant in decor than most other Indian restaurants in NYC, though I found that the food didn't do much for me. The crabcake special appetizer (with tamarind and Indian spices) was dry, somewhat bland, and was more bread than crab - which seemed unnecessary given the $15 price. For an entree, my date chose lamb wrapped around an almond and apricot puree in a saffron curry. The lamb was overcooked to the consistency of shoe leather, the sauce cloying and too creamy to go with the apricot, and the whole thing was judged by both of us to be a failure. My choice faired much better - shrimp in a spicy coconut red curry sauce. Just enough heat/spice to be interesting without totally overpowering the shrimp, and some nice complexity to the flavors in the curry. Very good. Given the high prices relative to other Indian restaurants (entrees were in the $20-30 range except for the most basic standards), the inconsistent food, and somewhat slow and disorganized (though friendly) service, I won't be going back anytime soon. The meal wasn't unpleasant, but it didn't live up to the standard I had expected given the reviews. Maybe I just don't get the "Indian nouvelle cuisine" concept that seems to hold sway at Tamarind, and I should stick to more traditional Indian restaurants.

For what it's worth, Chola is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in NYC. In my humble opinion, it offers a lot more bang for the buck and better service, albeit with less in the way of atmosphere, than Tamarind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate that tamarind wasn't everything you had wanted it to be. Last October a group of about 8 of us had a wonderful experience. I must say though that the former "executive chef", Raji Japelli , was a good friend from when i lived in Memphis and ate at her restaurant there with freqeuncy.

Lack of objectivity aside we all really enjoyed Tamarind. I'll agree with you that for Indian food it certainly seemed pricey but for my less adventureous guests the atmosphere and area were a plus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any change at the top of the kitchen should be a cautionary sign. It's often not safe to judge a restaurant's ability to deliver food to the table based on the previous chef's cooking. After years in the business and over the course of several chefs, we can sometimes determine that a nonchef owner is dedicated to good food, but so many restaurants change with the second chef that one can always suspect a disagreement about the food may be the reason the first chef left. That said, I'd generally try a restaurant after the chefs changed if I really loved it the first time.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Tamarind

Adam Heimlich

NY Press

....................Part of Tamarind’s mission is to elevate the typical solicitousness of Indian restaurants to the point where it feels genuinely aristocratic. That explains why the owner is always in the dining room, scanning the crowd, smiling at diners and taking special care of whoever might require it. His grand display of manners is so classic it’s practically a novelty act. To eat at Tamarind without taking a moment to be charmed by Mr. Walia practically constitutes ordering against the restaurant’s strengths.

Our gratis fritters were luckhnow ki bhajia ($5.75), which are spinach, banana and homemade cheese, battered and fried. The sauce was tomato-based, a marinara with Indian spices. The light coatings were golden and crisp. Still, these were common bar snacks and they didn’t exactly cast a spell. ..........................

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did anyone read the review?

Does Adam Heimlich do all the reviews for NY Press?

An employee of Tamarind told me about the review. They also mentioned that the restaurant is wanting to sue the writer... Can that happen?

I read the review and found the writer to have really done a great job of understanding the subtleties of Indian cooking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't see any grounds for a lawsuit, but I am a bit surprised that the newspaper allowed a writer with an antagonistic, extracurricular personal history with the restaurant's owners to write a review of the place -- especially when that review is so clearly influenced by said history. I don't believe a restaurant reviewer has to live in a vacuum, but a review is not the place to continue an old political feud. And yes, Adam Heimlich does occasionally write the food column for the paper.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating, troubling review on many levels, Suvir. I can imagine agreeing with the review in spirit--that his assessments of dishes were spot on--but not in principle. You don't have to have eaten at Tamarind to feel for the employees of the restaurant today or wonder whether the writer and editor made the right call on this.

Is this possibly a reverse form a snobbery--an anti-elitist sliding scale of ethics--it's ok to allow a piece like this as long as the restaurant is pricey, but we'd never allow something like this on a Cheap Eats destination? I don't read enough food columns in the NY Press to know from past material. Anyone? How often do they cover or consider fine dining, ethnic or otherwise? Have there been hit pieces, pieces with edge like this that possibly crossed over the edge a bit?

And Suvir--apart from Indian cooking--did the writer also do a good job of understanding and capturing the subtleties--and not so subtleties--of Indian restauranteering or restauration, to borrow a word Robert Brown has used on other threads? Are there common elements or themes with other Indian restaurants in the city?

Another thing--I read the review quickly, so I apologize in advance if I'm mistaken--do you think the writer should have mentioned that Raji died? I don't think he did.

"It seems that whoever Mr. Walia installed in his kitchen for Tamarind’s auto-pilot phase (it’d be astonishing to learn that the current crew cooked for the Times reviewer) has even himself fooled. " Don't you think it was incumbent on the reviewer to know this?

Also, it appeared he took but one meal there ever--or at least he reports on one meal. Does anyone else find it surprising that he didn't eat there early on--when Raji was still alive and when, presumably, Grimes ate there? or took a second meal there before writing the review--to be able to speak to consistency?

Still, this passage haunts:

"In fact, the restaurant does a lot to succeed but little to please. Any comfort to be found there stems from being lulled by overconfidence, and its food will rate highest with diners impressed with how highly the restaurant rates itself."

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This writer’s clear and fascinating understanding of Indian food genuinely impressed me. Only two writers in America have impressed me with their knowledge and familiarity with the very fine and delicate nuances of Indian cooking, Gael Greene and Eric Asimov. He comes close to the brilliance these two bring to their reviews of Indian restaurants.

His break down of dishes, where the menu fails and where it works were so perfect to what I have taken from my experiences t hat I would be wrong to not compliment this writer. His ability to criticize while still informing the reader of what should and could have saved a dish is amazing. So many writers either do not know better or hold such information in their own minds. The reader is left without gaining much. He shared all he got from his experience. Such reviews could change how ethnic restaurants think of themselves in the larger world of this countries restaurant-scape. Maybe such brutally honest and well researched writing can make ethnic restaurants realize that sooner or later, a market that really does have people wanting to experience t he real thing will see through falsities and games. But till then, reviewers and owners are doing each other disservice.

I agree that his past history with the restaurant could color his experience. But I also respect the fact that he came out clean with it. He could have never shared this with anyone. Not even his editor. That he chose to bring it all out leaves it to the reader to discredit him if they so choose. Biases exist in so many levels. Not all are as clear... some will never be revealed and yet do far more damage without every being understood and noticed.

I think he really did make an effort and a grand one. He went from item to item and even as he critiqued them for good or bad, he also shared their subtleties, as one would have to know them to experience them in their perfect form.

His knowledge about Indian food totally won me over. I was not expecting such amazing understanding of the very fine nuances of Indian cooking that add to the utter complexity of its repertoire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"In fact, the restaurant does a lot to succeed but little to please. Any comfort to be found there stems from being lulled by overconfidence, and its food will rate highest with diners impressed with how highly the restaurant rates itself."

Wow! This was the passage that had me totally charmed by the writing skill of this man. It was perfect in so many ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"..........Raj kachori ($5.75) was a delicious cold chickpea salad with tamarind sauce. The flavorful beans came in a puffed fried bread, a sort of poori. Oddly, Tamarind’s menu describes the dish as "Chickpea-filled flour patties," mentioning neither poori nor coldness. But our kachori was so good we only shrugged at the misinformation.........."

Adam Heimlich exposed what had been bothering me from day one. The name of this chaat is deceiving. It is not what it implies the dish to be. Most Indians that go there laugh it off and think the owner is doing such only for "Americans" would never care to understand the difference. But Heimlich proves that the contrary is true and that people do care about knowing the real stuff and not being fooled.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"...............Lamb kali mirch ($17.50) was our best overall dish. The deboned lamb itself was not particularly flavorful, but at least the flesh was moist. Kali mirch is a dark brown curry with ground black pepper in the starring role....... By the time it’s too hot, you’re way out in the middle of the dish, with no choice but to press on. When my friend who’d ordered the kali mirch got to that point, he jokingly asked our busboy to douse it with his pitcher of ice water. The young man soon returned with a bowl of Tamarind’s homemade yogurt. It was richly herbal, exquisitely cooling. It allowed us to merge with the busy kali merch sauce anew. And unlike our equally necessary plate of rice ($4.50), it was free.........."

Adam Heimlich does the diner service by pointing out this great flaw. Tamarind opened wanting to take Indian restaurants to their logical new step. The idea Raji envisioned with the help of Hemant Mathur (champion of individual portions) was to give Indian food a new face. Dishes would come plated, as they would be found in non-Indian restaurants. But when one orders entrees in fine restaurants the plate has all necessary garnishes and condiments that would make the dish complete and more enjoyable for the diner. But no, at Tamarind, they have chosen to ignore that basic necessity and add to their check by indulging in this highway robbery. It would not take a clever chef much time or effort to come up with garnishes that work, keep food cost in check and maintain the vision that Hemant and Raji first had. It seems to have somehow been lost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...