STEPHEN WEBB tries to eat as much as he wants but ends up with as much as he can
10 Swindon Road,
Tel: (01793) 766886/763290
Open: Lunch noon-2pm, evening 6pm-11pm
(11.30pm Saturday and Sunday)
IT’S all very well saying “I fancy a curry” when you are feeling a bit peckish and are in the mood for dining out.
Stick a pin in a map of Swindon and you are likely to find an Indian restaurant that at the very least will serve you a decent, reasonably priced hot and spicy vindaloo.
Well, I was feeling a bit peckish, was in the mood for dining out – and I fancied a curry. But I didn’t want any old curry – I was feeling adventurous.
We’d heard good things about a place in Highworth called Tamarind, and this was reinforced by some glowing reviews on the internet. The restaurant’s website also displayed Tamarind’s extensive menu which, alongside familiar vindaloo and madras dishes, had plenty to satisfy my curiosity for something different.
Being a Thursday, that meant it was Tamarind’s “all you can eat and drink for £18.90 per person” night. Too good to be true? Not at all – starters, main courses (seafood dishes are £2 extra), desserts: take your pick. Plus, unlimited lager, wine or soft drinks.
Just remember, all you can eat is different from all you want to eat – ie I wanted to eat Tamarind Bengal lamb special, followed by chicken madras, followed by chicken tikka akbari, all with rice and nan bread, but I couldn’t.
A modest but tasty mixed tikka – chicken, lamb and sheek kebab – started things off, while my wife had the lamb tikka. We also munched our way through some poppadoms, which came with a better than normal selection of accompaniments.
I turned to the section headed New Chef’s Special Dishes for my main course and did select the Tamarind bengal lamb special. Tamarind seems to take great pride in preparing “authentic” dishes and this one seemed to promise that. “Cooked with 21 different spices,” the menu read, “fresh onions, peppers, tomatoes, coriander, green chilli, mushroom, fenegreek, garlic and ginger. Served sizzling.”
I don’t know if there were 21 different spices – I didn’t count – but there was certainly a fabulous array of flavours. Each forkful seemed to bring something different and the effect on the tastebuds was dazzling. There were nice chunks of juicy lamb too.
On any day other than a Thursday, this dish would cost £9.90.
My wife had the pran chicken (normally £7.90), which is cooked in a mild sauce with mango pulp, ground almonds, coconut and fresh herbs. She thought the mango would make the dish “summery and light”. “The sauce was thick and quite sweet,” she said, “but didn't overpower the meat, of which there was plenty.”
We both had pilau rice, nan bread, plus a couple of side dishes – cauliflower bhajee and aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower in a spicy sauce – almost a meal in itself).
Dessert? Well I wanted to try an Indian-style pud, but after that lot... it was impossible.
The old fashioned cottage-like exterior of Tamarind belied the colourful, spacious interior – the decor was bright and modern and the welcome we received was friendly and attentive, which was a plus point on a busy night.
There was one negative though – tablecloths would have been a welcome addition, and would have covered the curry stains that made our table look like a half-finished Jackson Pollock painting.
But that aside, Tamarind gave us a most pleasant dining experience – and do try the Thursday night special, because it’s a bargain.