If like me you’ve been walking past the colourful boards hiding Tamatanga for the last month (and been dying to get inside) this week I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek.
The latest ‘Indian streetfood’ style restaurant to pop up in Birmingham city centre, Tamatanga is the new sibling of the award-winning restaurant of the same name in Nottingham. Promising a ‘new way to eat Indian’, I’ve been frothing about this new venue having heard many great things about the flagship branch.
Stepping inside the restaurant you’ll find a bright and spacious venue with splashes of colour everywhere. It’s a lot to take in, maybe a bit too much – I guess that’s down to personal preference. It does however immediately feel fun and is about as far from the traditional Indian restaurant vibe as you’re going to get. I imagine the student population are going to love it, probably because it feels a bit like my old student union.
Before heading to our table we propped up the bar and sampled some cocktails. The Rosy Cheeks (£6.95) was a pretty pink drink with a delightful rose flavour; it reminded me of Turkish delight.
The Delhi Diana (£6.95) combined rum with elderflower and pear puree, orange juice and a garnish of curry leaves. Whilst the leaves had a fantastic scent, the elderflower flavour was lost in the mix. It was pleasant but overly sweet and I wouldn’t order it again. There is a decent selection of craft beers and gins if that’s more your vibe.
The colourful menus mirror the bright and bold restaurant theme, and as we checked out what dishes are on offer it was great to find a varied selection. From hearty curry bowls with rice to spicy salads and meats fresh from the tandoor, there appears to be something for all tastes. A modern take on the cuisine, this place makes Indian food accessible. I also like the little ‘eating kit’ packs – cute touch.
My friend (and soon to be bridesmaid) Mel came with me this time. My former housemate and long suffering pal of over 10 years, Mel of Moseley loves eating nearly as much as I do. As expected she proved to be an excellent plus one, getting involved in the mass over ordering and graciously letting me take photos of her food before eating it. (Thanks, bab!) The lighting was actually too dark to take many decent photos on my battered iPhone, but I was too involved in a bowl of broken popadoms to notice until afterwards. So sorry about that, I know how much you all rate my photography skills *tumbleweed*
First of the dishes to arrive after our Indian crisps was the Lamb Tikka (£6.25). The chunks of tender, flavoursome meat had been marinaded and grilled well. A strong taste of garlic (fine by me) and a robust flavour, we ageeed this was the best of the tikkas tried. The Garlic Chicken Tikka (£5.45) is ok but a bit bland compared to the lamb before it. The Prawn Tempora (£6.45) completed our trio of finger food, and we enjoyed the large juicy prawns. The batter was light and crispy, though could’ve benefited from some seasoning; they needed the dipping sauce.
Keen to try some veggie options, the Saag Paneer and Baigan Masala side dishes (both £5.25) both arrived smelling divine. Both were packed full of smoky flavour, but the cheese dish was something else. I would most definitely order that again, along with the Chaat Bombs (£5.25). The surprise hit of the night, these light, crispy cases topped with chickpeas, mint sauce, yoghurt and tamarind manage to be light and satisfying. It looks a bit of a mess but is worth getting your fingers (and top) dirty for.
Deciding it would be unjust to come without trying ‘proper curry’ we got stuck in to some of the lamb and prawn curries. Confession time: I have totally forgotten the names (bad food blogger; blame the double gins) but I’ll find out and update later. The lamb, spinach and greens combination was excellent, and just the right level of heat. The Goan-style prawn curry was a rich coconut based sauce and had a lovely silky texture. All curries come with a choice of rice, naan or Tamatanga Fries.
Before rolling out the front door, we finished the meal with cheesecake and coffee. I opted for the Honey, Fig and Pistachio Cheesecake (£5.45) that proved to be quite the sugary slab; a generous portion but a bit too sweet, with an unnecessary drizzle of miscellaneous sugary goo. Saying that it had a nicely flavoured filling, and it looked very pretty. Mel had the Mango Cheesecake (£5.45) and loved the super crunchy biscuit base. Mine didn’t have this crunchy base in hindsight, which I know realise would’ve made it more interesting in terms of texture. Upon asking our (lovely!!!) waitress about the desserts I was a bit disappointed to discover these two are not made on site. Why, I don’t know..
Offering an Indian take on the Turtle Bay-style dining that’s proved so popular, this is a relaxed, casual setting for family and friends to share food and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s got a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, great staff, and offers an accessible and informal Indian dining experience. The food itself is good quality and well priced for what you get. I don’t doubt it’ll be really popular.
Tamatanga, Orion Building, Navigation St Birmingham B5 4AX
*Disclosure: I was invited to the opening by Big Cat PR and the meal was complementary. All opinions, (embarrassingly limited!!) photos and excitement are my own and I was not obliged to write a review*