Dine Birmingham have released their first ever local food calendar, just in time for Christmas. Adele Franghiadi takes a look.Written by Adele Franghiadi on 13th December 2017
Despite enjoying the food, Chris Burden says that Tamatanga won't be breaking into his Top Ten curry restaurants
Nottingham has recently joined in the culinary revolution which has grasped the Midlands, and now finally the easterners have managed to leave a mark in Birmingham, by opening a branch of their popular restaurant ‘Tamatanga’. Founded in Nottingham and having only two branches, this absolute gem serves up amazing South-Asian delights in a relaxed setting.
Found in the ground floor unit of the striking Orion Building on Navigation Street, Tamatanga finds itself squashed between the shining lights of the Mailbox and the buzz of John Bright Street, though it is certainly making an impact, and isn’t one to be missed. I went with my partner, though it would be the perfect place for a date, to take the parents, or just to catch up with friends.
As we walked in, we were greeted by neon lights and exposed light bulbs in a wood and concrete setting. ‘Very Shoreditch’ I grumbled with disdain as we were greeted by an overly chirpy member of staff, but my partner seemed to like it. The drinks were a great value, with two cocktails for £7.50 and the menu was certainly extensive.
“The naan breads were out of this world
Both of us opted to try a Thali, which appeared to be similar to a tapas or a mezze in the sense that it was made up of numerous smaller dishes. We picked two curries from the extensive menu, as well as two sides, a daal, yoghurts and chutneys, a poppadum and a naan bread. Thinking this wouldn’t be enough, we were categorically wrong, we also ordered some bhajis and extra naans, which comforted us as we began to slip into a food-induced coma later.
When it arrived, we realised that we couldn’t have been more wrong about our anticipation of small portion sizes. The prawn curry was almost faultless, packed with flavoursome marinated prawns, enrobed in a silky coconut sauce bursting with onions and spices. The dhal was slightly disappointing, the oil tempered spices lacked the depth which ghee would have offered, though nevertheless it was hearty and filling. My second curry was a Paneer Makhani, which ticked all the boxes, though sadly was certainly zealously over fenelled.
What was special was the variety of bread. The naans were out of this world, with the Peshwari naan being a stand out favourite, the coconut-almond stuffing was sweet and perfectly complemented the curries, similarly, the garlic and butter naans lived up to the high bar set by their relatively high price.
“Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free foods are available in abundance
The food was next to perfect, but there were a few other problems. Service was friendly but incredibly slow. I understand that it is difficult to serve meals at the same time when they are cooked to order, but fifteen-minute gaps are unacceptable, and should I be less intimidated by confrontation, I’d certainly have complained.
Tamatanga has something to offer for everyone, regardless of dietary requirements. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free foods are available in abundance, so you can finally accept that dinner invitation from your vegan-coeliac friend who you have been awkwardly avoiding for months. Grab a warming Tarka Daal or tuck into a Saag Aloo to be in an indulgent and perfectly spiced heaven.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tamatanga to everyone, but it shan’t be making my Top Ten for curry restaurants in Birmingham. If you’re in town and looking for some great food with friends, jump in, but if you’re looking for authentic food at amazing prices, try out some of Birmingham’s fantastic independent Balti Houses in the suburbs.
In short, Tamatanga is a perfect student haunt but might not match the expectations of a hardened curry loving Brummie.