At 11,000 square feet, the brand-new Tamarind Tribeca at Hudson and Franklin is surely the biggest restaurant to open around these parts in a while, at least since Megu. In fact, it’s even bigger than it appears from outside: As if taking over what used to be Socrates diner and the Sporting Club weren’t enough, it also has a mezzanine level hovering above the middle of the mammoth room. But it’s also quite handsome, in a money-was-spent/new-build way (except for the fluorescent lights up near the ceiling). Whether there are enough expense accounts downtown to support that wall of fancy wine is an open question.
The menu, from what I can tell, isn’t the same as at the Flatiron location. We had a delicious pancake appetizer (I forgot to take notes on the names—so sue me) that was spicy and crispy, and samosa-ish puffs that weren’t to our taste but hardly bad. The entrées were stronger. We’re in a vegetarian phase, but while the menu is heavy with meat, we had more than enough choices, ultimately ordering a baby eggplant dish and a paneer dish, along with pudina paratha (bread seasoned with mint) and basmati rice with spinach and garlic.
Despite a botched start—we were told to sit at the bar while a table was set, and then forgotten about until we went back to inquire—the service is also rather grand. Maybe it was just because it was a Sunday night and I wasn’t in the mood for formality, but I was surprised when (a) I made eye contact with the waiter so we could order and he bowed; (b) we were presented with moist washcloths at the start and the end of the meal; and (c) our entrées were spooned onto our plates for us. I even asked the runner if he had to do this for every dish, and they said yes, but he liked it.
I found myself wishing the restaurant would deliver, but I didn’t ask because I felt like it would be a bit like asking Queen Elizabeth to square dance. I guess I’m still confused as to why the downtown location is more midtown-y than the one in the East 20s. I’ll definitely be back, though I might let it loosen up a bit first.