i like finding something that feels like a bit of a secret, has been around for a while and still consistently provides good food. the tamarind tea room fits this niche for me. located on 22nd street, in an area where there aren’t that many charming restuarants (though there is good food here and here), tamarind is still a place to go for a relatively inexpensive yet interesting lunch. the tea room is a sliver of a spot, with just a few tables (there is a bigger, fancier restaurant next door which i have never tried), and it is an oasis of calm. the service is good but the staff (well really the one waiter on duty) will leave you in peace for as long as you like.
although i have been to tamarind years ago, i recently visited to see how it has stood up to the test of time, and the answer is well. tamarind’s food is tasty. it’s nothing really fancy but the dishes taste fresh, and seem quite healthy, i.e. not a lot of excess grease. the bhel poori was as addictively sweet and savory as it should be though maybe it was missing just a tiny bit of its crunch. i also had the lamb sholley which was basically a lamb wrap with not too much wrap (and the wrap was not super thick in a good way). the insiders were well marinated strips of lamb covered in a mint yogurt dressing. it was refreshing and i was full. they also serve tea at tamarind although sadly i haven’t yet tried that, maybe because i have not yet acquired an indian sweet tooth.
tamarind has been the kind of place that i tend to forget about but after eating there again i think i need to keep it on my radar. it’s always nice to know of a spot to take friends that is casual but a wee bit special. or if you must meet for work (and shake shack just won’t do), tamarind is an excellent option. tamarind tea room, 41-43 east 22nd street between broadway and park avenue, manhattan, new york, 212.674.7400.