Yesterday night we tried Tamarin in Beverly Hills. Chef Uma Singh, formerly at Bombay Cafe, bills it as a "New Wave of Contemporary Indian Inspired Cuisine with an European Accent" and a "Wine Bar & Tea Lounge". It is in a small strip mall (Olympic near Doheny) and parking is tight, but side street parking was available and plentiful.
We had resvervations for 8pm - when we walked in, all tables, but one, were taken. They cleared that one table for us. It is near this gigantic wooden door she imported from Rajasthan, right next to the lunch buffet tables. The setting was a bit crowded, but not sufficiently to complain. It is a open new space, decorated sparely, but quite small. It is advisable to make reservations.
Their wine selections were reasonable, if limited. I had a Chianti by the glass (don't remember the name) which was OK, but not remarkable. My dining colleague had a beer - he wanted an Indian beer, but they only had one (India Pale Ale) and it was the large bottle - so he did not want to drink that much beer. S Irene said they make a very nice mango lassi, but we did not try that last night. The drinks took a long time to come - and it was indicative of a service that is not smooth yet.
We had their Assorted Platter for starters - Basil chicken, skewered lamb, crispy veggie fritters, and crispy lentil crackers (papadum) with a tangy sauce. The chicken (breast meat) was quite tender, the lamb a little tougher, but still quite tasty, and the vegetable fritters had a really nice light batter - so different than most Indian restaurants.
We ordered the following entrees:
1) Tamarin Fish - (they said the fish was Mahi Mahi) - flamed with ginger and shallots, simmered in tomato, mustard sauce, served with saffron sauce - I had greater expectations than it served - I could not taste mustard or saffron - Uma Singh (who circulates quite a bit and brings dishes and removes dishes along with the other staff) said she used mustard seeds to temper the oil - which is not what I concluded from the description. This was the only miss during the evening. Next time, I am inclined to try their Shrimp Moiley or Shrimp Tandoori from the seafood section.
2) Portuguese Lamb Vindaloo - lamb flavored with cocktail onions and vinegar, served with Basmati rice - this was a dark sauce, and quite flavorful with the tanginess of the right amount of vinegar - this was my friend's selection - and he was expecting it to be much spicier - Uma Singh explained that most of the folks from the neighborhood are not that into spicy Indian food - so she keeps the spiciness to moderate levels - next time she recommended we ask for more spice (we were too busy chatting to do so when we ordered). I liked the dish at the level of spiciness that was served.
3) Tak-a-Tak - Cottage cheese diced on a griddle with red and yellow bell peppers, chopped shallots and ginger, served with fresh seasonal greens - this was a dry vegetable dish, and quite spicy and delicious. The crispy okra and pickled mushroom dishes sounded good from their description - perhaps on the next visit.
We ordered two naans (garlic and plain) and it came with rice pullao. Since my friend paid for the dinner, I did not see the bill, but from the pricing, I guess it would have come to $62 before tax and tips (including the beer and single glass of wine).
I think Tamarin is a welcome addition to the Indian restaurant list in LA.
9162 W Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212
310 777 0360