Indian cuisine encompasses an array of indigenous provincial fare. With a diverse amplitude of distinctiveness in soil characteristics and suitable weather of the region, Indian cuisine varies considerably from any other. The application of locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruit provides flavors not commonly found elsewhere in the world. Chef Alfred Prasad, an eleven-time Michelin Star recipient, and the only Michelin Star ranked chef in Orange County, has combined his culinary supremacy and intriguing knowledge of Indian cooking with ingredients from local California farmers and cultivators to aid in devising his new culinary masterpiece for us to enjoy as well…the stylish and sophisticated Tamarind of London. Recently named ‘Best Indian Restaurant in Orange County’ by the Golden Foodie Awards, this sanctuary for the senses is just the place to satisfy your craving for impressive Indian cuisine enhanced with subtle Californian characteristics.
Sister property to the famed Tamarind restaurant in the prestigious Mayfair area of central London, Tamarind of London has been featured in such publications as Where Magazine of Orange County, Newport Beach Magazine, the Orange County Metro’s Dining News, the Orange County Register and Virtuoso Life Magazine. The fast-growing popularity of this authentic eatery is sure to become as popular as its older sibling very soon. Warm hospitality is paired with seamless customer service creating a welcoming impression as you enter the restaurant. An ambiance of upscale sophistication surprises and delights the senses, while a creative and stimulating menu will please any palate. Above, views of the restaurant menu, and external photos of the inviting and meditative double-sided fountain and the stunning main entry into the establishment.
Above Interior Photos Courtesy of Eric Figge
Once inside, Tamarind of London will address your visual faculties with well-thought-out components such as rich woods, bright and colorful bursts of appealing coloration, soft leathers, sky-high ceilings and a modern glamour that you will not soon forget. Above, the interior dining area and glass-walled preview kitchen allow for fascinating culinary entertainment as well as a romantic dining experience. The 145-seat restaurant’s modern appeal offers a seductive sophistication that will make you yearn to linger long after you’ve enjoyed a fine meal here. The stunning motif is a feast for the eyes, and an overall explosion of all things extraordinary. Outside, raised fire pits are ignited and the allure and serene tranquility of flowing water from an indoor-outdoor fountain provides a sense of peaceful repose.
Chef Alfred is the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star. At just twenty-nine years old, he was honored with his first industry-coveted award. The Michelin Star is a trademark of fine dining quality. A distinction certainly well worth Chef Prasad’s accomplishments…eleven years in a row! My husband and I had the distinct honor to meet Chef Prasad after our incredible dinner, and we found him to be extremely amicable, generous and knowledgeable about his restaurant. He takes a lot of pride in this restaurant, and certainly has cause to do so.
Lentil Crackers With a Trio of Sauces, Natura Water, a Watermelon Mezcalrita & a Mumbai Mojito
Once seated, we were served crisp lentil crackers with a trio of savory sauces including berry, papaya-lime and spicy tomato. Lentils are a staple in Indian cuisine, and they’re certainly delicious in these crunchy offerings! Additionally, still or sparkling complimentary water is offered to patrons as well as a selection of reasonably priced hand-shaken cocktails. Above, I enjoyed a Watermelon Mezcalrita ($9). This fruity, yet not overly sweet margarita-esque libation consists of El Mezcalito, muddled watermelon, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon and lime and smoked salt. My husband enjoyed a Mumbai Mojito ($12). This refreshing liquid sensation combines Bacardi Limon Rum, freshly-muddled mint leaves and lime, simple syrup and a lemon-lime soda. Both chilled to perfection and delightful in taste, we were extremely satisfied with these beverage choices. Tamarind of London presents an expansive full bar serving an array of liquid enjoyments from hand-shaken signature and traditional cocktails to outstanding beers to over thirty spectacular wines.
We began with the Soft Shell Crab ‘Small Plate’ for one of our appetizers ($12). Delicately fried and ensconced in coconut, fennel and toasted coriander, each bite of this incredible flavor sensation resonated with our love for seafood, and the sublime crunch as it was bitten into delivered a happiness that only comes with perfectly crafted cuisine. The rejuvenating cucumber salad with yogurt sauce was a nice compliment to this dish…
Soft Shell Crab ‘Small Plate’
Our second appetizer, the below Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels ‘Small Plate’ item, was worthy of culinary recognition. A surprisingly large portion, these excellently steamed PEI mussels were served piled high in a broth of steamed coconut milk flavored with ginger, curry leaf and turmeric. A sensational combination of flavors that we found ourselves not wanting to ever end. The broth alone was out-of-this-world scrumptious, not to mention the PEI mussels…one of our favorites!
Steamed PEI Mussels
Picturesque and appealing to the senses, we moved on to the Halibut Kebab ($25). Tender, delicate halibut is attentively marinated with ginger, mint saffron, cream, and roasted gram flour (flour made from ground chickpeas), then meticulously spiced and served on a healthy bed of colorful greens accompanied by a lemon wedge. Each bite nearly melts in your mouth upon contact due to the incredible tenderness of this dish, and the savory essence of the colorful marinade enhances the entire dish superbly.
If you’ve never experienced naan, (pronounced “NON”), it is a leavened, oven-baked flat bread commonly enjoyed in India as well as other areas of the world. We tried the Date Naan ($6), which was stuffed with sweet dates and coconut, then finished with poppy seeds. This is the sweetest of the Indian breads offered at Tamarind of London, and it was extremely gratifying.
Date Naan, Cucumber Yogurt and Basmati Rice
The Chicken Curry dish ($20), was phenomenal. We welcomed a touch of the cucumber yogurt to tone down the spice of this succulent preparation, which created a perfect level of cool and spicy flavors. The intensity of the coloration alone was a treat to behold! Made with fall-off-the-bone braised chicken thigh meat, cumin, turmeric, garlic, onion and tomatoes, these components are then integrated to form a most stunning offering of one of the best curry dishes we’ve enjoyed for some time. Don’t forget to add a side of Tamarind of London’s incredible Basmati rice ($3)… it’s a terrific addition to the fine Indian meals that you will find here.
My husband was craving something a little sweet after dinner. I fell prey to his desire, and found myself indulging in the Pistachio-Cardamom Kulfi, an Indian ice cream, with him. The pastry-like shell complimented the cold, creamy kulfi and the pieces of pistachio and essence of cardamom blended nicely to create a very satisfying treat. A touch of melted white chocolate, which decorated the plate and held the dessert in place was attractively sprinkled with ground pistachios…
Pistachio and Cardamom Kulfi and Candlelight
But wait…we have more to tell you! Tamarind of London is excited to announce they will begin offering their Holiday Lunch Menu and new hours starting Tuesday, November 13th through the end of the year. Lunch will be available from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM featuring new items expected to temp the palate and seduce the senses. Prices are a reasonable $8.00 – $11.00, and there are many delectable options to choose from.
Salads at a fair $11 and under ranging from Salmon & Giant Couscous to the Trio of Mushrooms to a Calamari & Quinoa version. The Paneer Cheese & Peppers or Lamb Kebab & Avocado Whole Wheat Roti Wraps ($9 – $11) are sure to be a hit also and will be served with julienne vegetables, mint chutney and organic greens.
And here’s your formal introduction to the new ‘Naanwich’! A selection of sandwiches made with naan bread from the Tuna, Sweet Corn & Red Onion Naanwich to the Vegetarian selection to the Butter Chicken & Pickled Onion rendition and the Beef & Potato Pepper-Fly version. Below is a preview of the ‘Naanwich’. How great does this look!
Photo Credit: Tamarind of London
Additionally, Thali Combo Plates will be on the new menu. Thali is an Indian meal made up of a choice of assorted dishes usually served in small bowls on a round tray. These will range from $12 to $16 and will include a diverse selection including Vegetarian, Butter Chicken, Beef Vindaloo, Black Pepper Prawns or Fish Curry to be presented with a vegetable of the day, lentils, naan, raita (a sauce made with yogurt), and rice.
Poached Pear With Ginger Ice Cream and Molten Chocolate Cake sound gratifying? Then try one or both for dessert at Tamarind of London for $5 to $6 each. Chef Alfred will also be offering a Combo Meal option that allows for a drink, salad and either a Naanwich or Wrap for $15, or a 3-course choice, which will include dessert for $20.
Saturdays and Sundays, the Holiday Lunch Menu will be served side by side with brunch proposing such fare as the Masala Scramble made with turmeric and ginger ($8), and the Bombay Toast, a ‘French Toast’ creation made with a spiced egg batter ($7).
We profoundly relished in our meal at Tamarind of London. Chef Alfred’s masterful culinary expertise captures the soul and spirit of fine Indian cuisine with his artful presentations, his highly skilled culinary staff and his love and adoration of all things flavorful.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The country of India is known to many as ‘the country of colors’. Tamarind of London showcases one of those colors inside…the dark apricot hue surrounding the glass-walled preview kitchen. This orange hue is found in the marigold flower that adorns many celebrations held in that part of the world. The restaurant exudes a modern elegance while maintaining a welcoming and hospitable semblance.
- FOOD / DRINK: The distinct uniqueness of the cuisine prepared at Tamarind of London combined with the substantial flavor, perfectly-portioned servings and creative inventiveness by Chef Alfred Prasad and his culinary team is significant. We were extremely pleased with our experience, and will return again in the near future, as well as spread the word about this fine dining establishment.
- LOCATION: Located at the fashionable, upscale Crystal Cove Promenade, the restaurant is positioned perfectly at 7862 East Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach, CA 92657 right along the Newport Coast.
- HOURS: Tamarind of London is excited to announce their new holiday hours! Starting Tuesday, November 13, 2012, through the end of the year, Happy Hour will be available all night on Mondays from 4 PM – 10 PM, Tuesday through Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 PM to 6 PM. Lunch will be offered Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and dinner will be served daily at 5 PM. Don’t forget about Tamarind of London’s unforgettable brunch offered Friday through Sunday from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. There’s something delicious and memorable for everyone at times that will suit most any schedule available in between holiday shopping and that busy Orange County lifestyle!
- SERVICE / STAFF: We were greeted by our hostess, Amy. She was delightful and could not have been more excited to see us or more complimentary. Once seated, Erin served us for the duration of the evening. Erin was kind and extremely informative, resourceful and suggested items when asked about the menu. We appreciated both Amy and Erin for their professionalism, hospitality and overall appreciation of us dining at the restaurant.
- PRICE / VALUE: Prices for the multitude of options at Tamarind of London are extremely fair considering the quality of what is prepared for diners. Hand-shaken cocktails with freshly-muddled ingredients, exquisite attention to the flavor and visual appeal of each dish delivered from the kitchen, the unforgettable romantic and elegant vibe throughout the establishment with splashes of eye-opening hues, and the outstanding service we received from the moment we arrived to the time we departed the restaurant.
- CORKAGE FEE: $25 per 750ml bottle
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (949) 715-8338, Website: www.tamarindoflondon.com
- PARKING: The Crystal Cove Promenade offers ample parking in front of the restaurant. Valet service is also available for your convenience during dinner hours.
- TOTAL BILL: We enjoyed complimentary Natura Water to start with delightfully crisp lentil crackers joined with three sauces before ordering the refreshing Watermelon Mezcalrita ($9), and Mumbai Mojito ($12). After obtaining resourceful suggestions from our server, we then chose to start our evening with the Soft Shell Crab ($12) and the Steamed PEI Mussels ($11). Dinner was served with style and grace as we delighted in the Date Naan Indian bread ($6), the Chicken Curry ($20), the Halibut Kebab ($25), and a side of White Basmati Rice ($3). For dessert, we indulged in the Pistachio and Cardamom Kulfi, which finished our meal off nicely.