Casual Indian food is having a bit of a moment in Brum right now. New restaurants and desi pubs are popping up all over the shop and if you read Brum and Beyond, you’ll know that that’s absolutely fine with me. I’m obsessed with Indian food. I’ve been to India, I’ve worked in Mumbai and I’ve travelled extensively there, so it’s fair to say I’m fussy af when it comes to my Indian food. I don’t apologise for this.
Tamatanga started out in Nottingham and has recently opened a restaurant on Navigation Street, around the corner from Cherry Reds, The Stable and The Victoria, amongst others.
From the moment you walk in, its bursting with bright, bold colour and standout lighting features with a definite theme-style vibe. Think Indian food, meets Wahaca, meets Turtle Bay. This doesn’t mean it’s awful, let’s just put that out there. This coming from someone who has no time for the fake Caribbean news that is Turtle Bay. But Tamatanga? Definitely an acquired taste when it comes to Indian food- some people will like this style of food whilst others will prefer more traditional cooking and vibes.
As you walk in, the bar greets you, with generous seating, so you can be as nosey as you like and have a drink or three before you eat. The drinks menu is fun and there are lots of cocktails to choose from and who doesn’t love a quirky neon sign at the bar. I’ll have one for my kitchen, thank you.
We order Vanilla Velvets, made up of Vodka, vanilla and mango which is summer in a glass. The only suggestion I’d make is for the cocktails to be made a little stronger. I don’t know whether this is more a comment on my apparent love of drinking cocktails that make my eyes squint- don’t you love it when they are that strong- but my partner in crime also agrees with my sentiments too.
The food menu mirrors the vibe of the restaurant. It’s not your typical Indian menu, but it doesn’t want to be and instead includes a selection of meats cooked in the clay oven, biryani bowls, curry bowls, salad bowls, familiar sides and a good choice of veggie options.
We start with Onion Bhajis (£4.25) with mint and coriander chutney to share. They arrive as small discs bursting with delicate flavour, with the chutney stealing the show.
Next, we order Lamb Chops (12.45), marinated in ginger and garlic, they’re tender and succulent, yet have a distinct smoky flavour and texture, only achieved by a decent clay oven. The chops, as do all the clay oven meats, come with a small salad, tarka daal, rice, naan or chips- I opt for naan. And what an absolute worldie it is. This is the standout dish of the night and I thank myself for ordering it as I eat- similar to when you’re having a good sleep and you constantly tell yourself it’s a good sleep, in your sleep. Ok, just me then.
We also order Fish Xacutti (£11.95), a Goan speciality of white fish with a delicate coconut and spice flavour running throughout which transports us back to the beach- shack vibes in South Goa.
We skip desserts because I’d much rather finish with a strong cocktail but if sweets are your bag, there’s plenty to choose from.
The verdict? If you’re after casual, non fussy Indian food with friends/family then this place is the one for you. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste and I wouldn’t come here for a solid curry craving when you consider the likes of Asha’s and co but for light bites and street food style eats in the city centre, absolutely. The service is fun, friendly and relaxed and I’m sure this place will do well.
As we leave, a guy visiting Brum with his young family asks us if this ‘hipster place’ is any good. Our response? The perfect place for your young family to sample some Indian food in an informal setting and start that love of India early.
*I was invited along to try the food and drink but didn’t have to write about it. As always, my opinions are my own*