Some restaurants hide their light under a bushel, Tamarai hides its under a car park. It takes some nerve to descend the seemingly endless stairs to arrive at what turns out to be not a bomb shelter but a large clubby space with a massive bar and a special dining area. If war is declared, here is where I want to eat my last poppadum.
Chef Manish Mehrotta has been turning out fine Pan Asian cooking here for some time now, yet never seems to get the recognition he deserves. Some indication of the quality of his cuisine though can be judged by the people that have turned up for this special press evening, famous names, if not famous faces, from the world of food writing. No doubt they are also keen to sample the new wine matching by guru Charles Metcalfe which is the point of the evening as well as celebration of Old World Hospitatlity’s new restaurant, Indian Accent, in New Delhi.
The wine matching is made slightly awkward by the fact that all the wines are white and all are poured pretty much at the same time. This means that one careless move and you no longer know which is which, unless you are a guru yourself. Having comprehensively jumbled mine within minutes, I have to ask one of the attending wine experts to put me right.
The food and wine seem fine to me. A delicious Laroche Chardonnay Terret goes grandly with the excellent Smoked Salmon Thayay Satham (a curd rice) while yet another Chardonnay, this time Stonier Valley from Australia partners an unusually excellent Soft Shell Crab with a masala mayo.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc partners Hoisin Duck Spring rolls and the New World scores again with that same Sauvignon Blanc from Spy Valley helping big fat Tiger Prawns with wild rice slide down. Finally though came something a bit redder, a Vivanco Rioja Rosada from, of course Spain. This went with a rather good Thai Green curry, with the classic bitter pea aubergines.
And finally a selection of chef’s best desserts; a seasonal fruit satay, and a roasted sesame and white chocolate semi-freddo with a wild berry coulis and a Muscat de Rivesaltes. Here I felt on familiar ground, having spent many holidays in the Rivesaltes area where you can buy the stuff by the litre and pumped into your waiting container by specially converted petrol pumps. Not the good stuff though, naturally.
Some people don’t see the point of Pan Asian; why not keep it pure they ask. Some don’t see the point of wine with spicy food; what a waste they say. Well both can work if carefully considered and delivered by experts. Here at Tamarai they pull it off with some élan and it’s a menu and a meal well worth descending the stairs for.