Tamarind Mayfair
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SquareMeal Review of Tamarind Mayfair

Bronze Award

Tamarind has been one of the most famous names on London’s restaurant scene since it became the first Indian ever to win a Michelin star in 2001. Now it has re-opened after an eight-month refurbishment with a pair of émigrés from two of London’s other most famous Indian restaurants: Karunesh Khanna, former head chef at Amaya, and Manav Tuli, former head chef of Chutney Mary.

Neither chef, however, has managed to replicate the allure of the cooking at the restaurants they have left behind. We loved the roti-like pastry case of a chicken biryani, but the contents within tasted more like casserole than curry. A Keralan prawn curry, meanwhile, seemed similarly under-powered on the flavour front, although there was no faulting the quality nor generosity of the king prawns.

Vegetable dishes may be a better way to go – we adored a dish of caramelised Brussels sprouts with chestnuts that would make it taste deliciously like Christmas all-year round – while an excellent non-alcoholic drink involving molasses made it a pleasure to stay sober. 

Khanna and Tuli both have terrific CVs, and we hope that our meal – competent rather than compelling – was a result of them settling into new premises that have more than doubled in size and been completely re-modelled by superstar designer David D’Almada.

The basement dining room has been lightened, brightened (overly so, we felt) and an open kitchen added, while there is a new, more loungey space upstairs; each is linked to the other by a high-shine street-level lobby that looks like the entrance to an especially lucrative private-wealth manager.

Still, we’ll give Tamarind a second chance. This is a restaurant that convinced Londoners of the sophistication of Indian cooking, and it remains a name to conjure with. Fingers crossed the new team can add the magic on the food front.

 

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Indian
Ambience
Glamorous, Lively
People
Special occasions

Location for Tamarind Mayfair

20 Queen Street, London, London, W1J 5PR

020 7629 3561

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm 5.30-11pm (Sun -10.15pm)

Reviews of Tamarind Mayfair

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19 Reviews 
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a H

MUST READ
25 June 2019  

Laughing stock! Michelin chef is accused of using Knorr chicken cubes to flavour his acclaimed dishes… even in vegetarian meals

  • Karunesh Khanna admitted using shop-bought chicken stock to flavour dishes
  • The executive chef used Knorr cubes in his vegetarian and vegan dishes 
  • Revelations emerged during an employment tribunal case brought by an assistant manager who lost his job after he alerted bosses

By MICHAEL POWELL FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

PUBLISHED: 00:10, 23 June 2019 | UPDATED: 00:39, 23 June 2019

 

His haute cuisine curries have delighted David Beckham and Charlize Theron, but Michelin-starred chef Karunesh Khanna has admitted using shop-bought chicken stock to flavour his acclaimed dishes.

The executive chef of the upmarket Tamarind chain of Indian restaurants also allegedly used the Knorr cubes in vegetarian and vegan meals but failed to tell customers that they contained meat, according to legal papers.

After six staff members complained, Mr Khanna – who trained at The Dorchester, Four Seasons, The Ritz and Claridge's hotels – told one manager: 'Guests don't need to know.'

 

His haute cuisine curries have delighted David Beckham and Charlize Theron, but Michelin-starred chef Karunesh Khanna has admitted using shop-bought chicken stock to flavour his acclaimed dishes

The revelations emerged during an employment tribunal case brought by an assistant manager who lost his job after he alerted bosses about the use of the cubes.

The tribunal heard that when the row reached Tamarind director Fateh Dhaliwal, he backed his chef and said: 'Those members of staff need to be phased out.'

Mr Khanna admitted he used Knorr stock while working at Tamarind Kitchen in Soho while the flagship Tamarind Mayfair restaurant was undergoing refurbishment last year, according to the documents.

Assistant manager Mafis Ali raised concerns with a sous chef about the use of the stock on June 4 and asked that the correct ingredient information be provided to the waiters.

The executive chef of the upmarket Tamarind chain of Indian restaurants also allegedly used the Knorr cubes in vegetarian and vegan meals but failed to tell customers that they contained meat, according to legal papers

But when Mr Khanna refused, Mr Ali emailed all the senior chefs saying that guests were being deceived about whether dishes were truly vegan or vegetarian.

He also raised concerns that the secret use of the Knorr cubes meant that the dishes would not be suitable for strict Muslims because the stock was not halal. The email was ignored, and on June 18 six members of staff confronted restaurant manager Shoaib Malik and demanded that he speak to Mr Khanna.

But the top chef 'made it clear that he was not going to disclose the use of Knorr chicken powder to guests', prompting Mr Malik to resign in disgust, the tribunal heard.

After six staff members complained, Mr Khanna – who trained at The Dorchester, Four Seasons, The Ritz and Claridge's hotels – told one manager: 'Guests don't need to know.' Pictured: inside Tamarind in London

Mr Khanna admitted he used Knorr stock while working at Tamarind Kitchen in Soho while the flagship Tamarind Mayfair restaurant was undergoing refurbishment last year, according to the documents

The top chef 'made it clear that he was not going to disclose the use of Knorr chicken powder to guests', prompting Mr Malik to resign in disgust, the tribunal heard

Mr Dhaliwal made Mr Ali redundant two weeks after the bust-up. An employment judge has now ruled that Mr Ali was unfairly dismissed.

The judge said Mr Dhaliwal 'didn't want anyone interfering with KK's [Karunesh Khanna's] cooking as it was so important to FD [Fateh Dhaliwal] to have a Michelin star chef for the refurbished restaurant'.

Mr Khanna still works for Tamarind at its flagship Mayfair restaurant, which reopened in December last year after a multi-million-pound refurbishment. A tasting menu, paired with wine, costs £114 a head.

Mr Ali will be awarded damages, limited to one month's wages – around £2,500 – at a remedy hearing on September 23.

 

 

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Ms/Mrs. Deborah N

Tamarind Never Fails To Deliver
22 March 2016  
I have eaten here several times and the food always impresses, as does the service. Our attendant on this occasion was Robin, who went the extra mile to make us feel welcome and at home. Having eaten at all the UK Michelin star Indian restaurants, this ranks in my top two.
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Paul A

Authenticity is the name of the game
11 March 2016  
Once again at lunchtime in a restaurant with a deservedly top-class reputation we were surprised by the low turn-out, which happily meant for us an unlimited choice of table and a chance to converse with the mostly very professional staff. We greatly enjoyed the tasting menu when we last dined here in August, but we decided that as it was still precisely the same this time, we should choose from the à la carte, and with the expert help of the sommelier, Philip, we were able to select a suitable bottle to follow the very reasonably priced Bollinger we had as our aperitif and which went perfectly with the spicy potato ball canapés. We started with an acceptably generous dish of delicate scallops perfectly balanced with a spicy tomato sauce and accompanied by mixed peppercorns and topped with roasted peppers. We thought about having one or other of the lamb dishes and the suggestion by the helpful staff was that sharing a couple of mains would allow full appreciation of the difference in the styles of cooking. We gratefully accepted the advice, which proved to be quite justified, as well as the recommended garlic naan, which turned out to be absolutely super but perhaps tipped the volume scales over the top. Luckily our table was big enough for four people as the signature slow-cooked lamb shank with turmeric, yoghurt and a delicious gamut of spices plus the lamb biryani which came with a crust of pastry which was artfully drawn back to reveal the meat and rice underneath and some very good raita needed a reasonable amount of space. The portions were more than sufficient, even when shared, but the quality of both dishes made it extremely difficult to leave anything. We managed, though, to find enough room for the house special dessert of pistachio kulfi, which was notable for representing the very essence of pistachio. Our coffee was made even more enjoyable by the terrific mint leaf and white chocolate crisps served with it. As we noted last time,Tamarind prides itself on the authenticity of its cooking, and this undoubtedly enhances the pleasure of dining here.
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Paul A

Authentic pleasure
31 August 2015  
When you go to an Indian restaurant and it is full of diners from the sub-continent you can rest assured that the food is authentic. If there is a Mayfair gloss in terms of the setting and service, so much the better. It took a little while to become accustomed to the downstairs room, but the bright, intelligent service soon helped to settle us. The Taste of Tamarind menu was full of good things, beginning with very good poppadums and three chutneys, red fruit and mango, date and fig and tomato and onion seed, followed up by spinach tikki with red fruit sauce, and then a starter of channa chaat with delightful spicy chick peas, tamarind sauce, gram flour, fresh coriander, raw onion, mint and chilli and some very welcome and refreshing yoghurt. The smashed tomato and onion seed sauce with the super scallops seemed to have a sour touch at first but it made an excellent match and was backed up well with smoked peppers. The delicious tandoor-grilled chicken breast was served with a vegetable tikki with crispy gram flour coating and a tomato sauce with fenugreek which had a real kick on the tip the tongue but it all went down a treat, and was followed by a very interesting tamarind and sensational date sorbet dish as palate cleanser. Generous lamb chops were served with a rogan josh sauce, saffron rice, spiced spinach, cucumber yoghurt and raita, a special creamy dal makhni, touches of coriander and cumin and very good naan bread. A beautiful dish, intelligently conceived and executed to show off the full range of flavours. The dessert came very close to equalling the main dish with red fruit jam dobs which harmonised exceedingly well with the carrot fudge cake, as did the essence of pistachio in the kulfi. A further bonus was provided by the petits fours of fresh mint leaf in white chocolate and chocolate orange zest, and to complete the pleasurable experience the chef came out to chat about the variety of dishes on the menu and his vision for the future of this first-class venue. This is definitely one to return to.
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Ms/Mrs. gowsia H

five star
31 March 2015  
Fantastic food , attentive service , buzzy atmosphere- overall a wonderful experice.
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Ms/Mrs. gowsia H

10 April 2014  
Food is good, suitable if you like mild. Service is attentive however it felt rushed at times. Overall nice experience.
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Ms/Mrs. Neil M

06 November 2012  
It all feels a bit tired. The decor, the food, the service! Frankly I was amazed that they'd retained a Michelin star. It's not all bad just doesn't stand out from your local the way it once did.
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Ms/Mrs. Maria B

07 August 2012  
One of my favourite restaurants in the whole of london! I went to this restaurant for my birthday and it was fabulous! The food was outstanding and the service was great too. Tamarind really does live up to its title of “Michelin Star” I would most certainly recommend this restaurant to anyone!
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Ellen F

26 March 2012  
It is a long time since I went for swanky curry so it was with some trepidation that I turned up for a girly Sunday lunch at Tamarind. Be warned if, like me, you have a pathological need to be early: there is no waiting/bar zone so you will be seated at your table where the zealous topping up of your water (5 times in 15 mins) will enhance your Billy No Mates feeling. Still, I was sitting opposite an entertaining peek-a-boo window into the kitchen and had time to contemplate the decor. It's posh Indian as done by a posh Indian: no flocked velvet wallpaper but the muted green and bronze palette with an effusion of dimmer lights (not all of which look secure in their fittings) is reassuringly familiar enough. I rather like it although it is a shame to be in a basement on such a sunny day. We opted for a set menu, which has shared mains, as a group. Something on the starter plate blew my head off (I am a chilli wimp) so can't comment on those flavours, but the mains (special mention to the aubergine salad and fish stew) were wonderfully spiced without being hot, and came on request with an enormous pot of raita as well as plenty of rice and naan. The highlight for me was a delicate ginger/fennel ice cream with a light and fragrant gulab jamun sponge. The bill was a laughable £32 each for 3 courses, plus poppadom nibbles and some charming chocolates, a shared bottle of Viognier (between 4), plenty of water and including service. Although it may not seem Michelin star-worthy, this lunch was still extraordinarily good value for Mayfair.
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Mr. Chris H

28 February 2012  
Tamarind is a nice restaurant with good food but somehow lacks the wow factor hoped for from a Michelin Starred establishment. Perhaps having grown up in Birmingham, with numerous high quality curry houses to choose from, makes my expectations too high. Do not get me wrong, I did enjoy the meal just didn't feel that it lived up to the hype and cost.
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