My formerly hippified father likes to say that he and my mom left Chicago for England in 1969 because Nixon assumed office. However, as London was then the quintessential hotspot for young filmmakers, and he fit the bill quite nicely, their US exodus may very well be accredited to latter. I happened along midway through their UK adventure and grew up in SoCal. But one British trait they imparted on me was a deep-seated love of Indian cuisine. You can’t imagine the elation I felt upon hearing that a London-based Indian restaurant would be opening a sister restaurant in Orange County. And then to further discover it was the Michelin-rated, Mayfair-based upscale Tamarind, well, can we all say yippee?
Nestled in the Crystal Cove spot briefly occupied by Sage, Tamarind of London’s swanky interiors boast plenty of inviting booths, ample table seating, and a seductive bar. The lighting is low enough to make everyone look great yet bright enough to behold the beautifully presented dishes as well as a clear menu read.
Did I mention the glass-partitioned kitchen? Oh so lovely to watch naan (and everything else, too, but I was particularly fascinated by what has always been a fave) in the making. The night we were there, esteemed Chef Shachi Mehra (who has integrated California’s robust selection of seasonally fresh and sustainable foods from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen with Indian favorites and classics) could be seen working in tandem with Chef Alfred Prasad, fresh off the plane from his Mayfair gig for the Newport launch. What a treat.
We began with a trio of apps: fresh Sesame Prawns, Spice Crusted Seared Scallops with a tasty tomato chutney, and Chickpea Chaat (which incorporated wheat crisps, mint chutney, tamarind chutney, sweetened yogurt and, of course, chickpeas into a delight so flavorful and amazing that I’m salivating as I type. Yes, it was that good!).
Our main dishes were a delicious Lamb Stew with Turnips, savory Prawn Pepper Masala, and delicate Lamb Chops with a hint of red chili. Black Lentils prepared with tomatoes, fenugreek and Kashmiri red chili along with the kale, spinach, mustard and garlic fusion of Three Greens Saag and a fresh yogurt and mint Raita accompanied the entrees. Their hot from the oven Naan was a pleasure on its own but even better for soaking up every last hint of sauce that remained on our plates.
The evening was capped off by a dessert sampler featuring a sublime assortment of Seven Spice Molten Chocolate Cake, Caramelized Apples with Cinnamon Rabri and Traditional Carrot Halwa. As evidenced by my particular menu, I am NOT a vegetarian however I was so very wowed by the lentils and chickpeas that I could consider dining solely on those two dishes for the rest of my days. That’s not to say that I wasn’t thoroughly enchanted by everything else however these two dishes were so beyond outstanding and demand many, many return trips on this side of the pond.
For those of you visiting Orange County, California and want a taste of Tamarind of London the now Newport hotspot for authentic indian cuisine & local libations – we highly recommend your stay be paired with a Bungalow weekend starting at $395.00 at Pelican Hill, receive a Personal Hauteoc Traveler Welcome Amenity, Daily $50.00 Breakfast Credit for the Colliseum Grill or In-Room Dining (excludes tax, gratuity & delivery fee) One-time $100.00 Golf or Spa Credit (no cash value if not redeemed), Upgrade on arrival based on availability to next category accommodation, subject to availability, Early Arrival, Late Departure subject to Resort Availability – when you BookTravel@Hauteoc.com
JOIN HAUTEOC TRAVELER’S INTERNATIONAL BREAKFAST CLUB, SUNDAY APRIL 22ND 11AM to Meet, Greet and EAT!
Experience culture by Plate and by Palette for Reservations see info below!
Tamarind of London is located in the Crystal Cove Promenade at 7862 East Coast Hwy, Newport Beach. Hours are Monday – Saturday 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. with Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Reservations are not required but definitely recommended via (949) 715-8338.