First Impressions: The Lotus Room at Tamarind Tribeca

My Google alert on “Tribeca” picked up something interesting on Sunday: The Lotus Room (or the Louts Room, as the web page calls it) at Tamarind Tribeca: “The private dining room at Tamarind TriBeCa has been transformed into the Lotus Room where lunch and tea is served daily from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.” A more casual restaurant-within-the-restaurant would seem to have possibilities, since Tamarind Tribeca is huge and somewhat formal for an easy lunch. My friend Andrea, who also has a Google alert on “Tribeca,” noticed it, too, and we made plans to go yesterday for lunch.

The Lotus Room is at the back of the restaurant, up a half flight of stairs. I expected it to feel different from the rest of Tamarind, but no: There were several two- and four-tops, but no sign that were anywhere but Tamarind Tribeca proper. The waiter said we could sit in the main dining room if we preferred, which we did, because who doesn’t want natural light at lunch? We were also offered the normal menu, in addition to the Lotus Room’s menu, but we demurred.

The Lotus Room menu, as you can see, includes five appetizers, six wraps, two “burgers,” and three dosas. Actually, it should be six apps and five wraps, since idiyapam is actually a noodle dish, placed amid the wraps by accident. (I can’t bear to post my disgusting photo of what was a delicious dish.) We also ordered the achari nedru (grilled eggplant, artichokes, lotus fries, tomatoes, red onions, baby spinach) and the Bombay pav nelumbo burger (vegetable burger, lotus root, vegetable sweet-heart blend, mango, coconut chutney). The eggplant in the achari nedru was breaded and fried, not grilled, and the burger had no taste of mango or coconut. We wondered if we received the other burger on the menu, which comes with mint chutney (as ours did, but we saw no evidence of mustard seeds or curry leaves), or some other burger, since neither burger’s menu description included cheese. “I would put these discrepancies down to the menu only being a week old and the cooks not being very familiar with the actual menu as written,” emailed Andrea later.

We didn’t really care because everything tasted very good, not least of all the lotus fries that came in the “salad” and alongside the burger. (Although the tomato slice on the burger was shameful.) We also tried the dessert sampler, asking them to hold off on the mango cheesecake, and it was lovely—and I tend to stay away from Indian desserts.

If you go in expecting a quicker, more casual Tamarind experience—or even a restaurant-within-a-restaurant—you’re not going to get it; the service is as kooky-stuffy as ever. But if you want to try a new range of dishes from a kitchen that’s generally excellent, whether for lunch or tea, the Lotus Room is definitely worth a try. Or there’s always the $26 prix fixe lunch menu….

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