Restaurant Review: Tamarind Bay

I stuff myself like a jerk every time at the Tamarind Bay in Cambridge.  So the other week, we headed over to their Brookline location.

I have always loved Indian food, but since being diagnosed with celiac, I am an even bigger fan.  I have a number of Indian cookbooks and really appreciate that so many of the recipes use potato, chickpea or lentil flour instead of regular wheat flour.  I like not having to think about substitutions and replication.

Anyway, the Tamarind Bay in Cambridge is in a tiny, softly lit basement.  The décor is definitely second to the food and there is no bar.  The room is very intimate and slightly cramped, but the food makes it worth the Spartan dining area.

The Brookline location differs greatly from its Cambridge cousin in appearance.  The Brookline location is a lot brighter and more spacious with more attention paid to the décor, including a full bar.  The big windows along the front are perfect for people watching.

While the two restaurants feel very different when you walk in, they both have the same neighborhood feeling, friendly service and fantastic food.  The two locations do have different menus, both of which are really good.

The waiter at the Brookline location was very friendly.  He did not really know much about gluten allergies, but he listened, took notes, asked a few questions and went back to the kitchen to see what contained gluten.  There were only two chicken or fish curries out of about 12 that had wheat flour in them.  Aside from the naans, rotis and a few appetizers and curries, I had my pick of the menu.

Once the waiter took my order, the manager came by and just confirmed that my order was ok and reminded me not to eat any of the naan.

Tamarind Bay makes their poppadoms with chickpea and lentil flours.  They were light and crispy.  It was nice to be able to chow down on “bread” basket as we waited for our appetizer and main course.  They serve them with two sauces: one sweet and one spicy.  So many bonus points for not having to sit there with puppy eyes watching my husband chomp on fresh bread.

We started off with an order of seared scallops.  They were rubbed with spices and served with spinach.  The scallops literally melted in my mouth.  They were perfectly seasoned with a really delicate curry flavor in the spice rub.  The spinach was super garlicky.  I love garlic, but this was a little too much for my liking.

I forget the name of the chicken curry I tried.  It was very gingery with lots of cilantro and peppers. Very spicy, which I do like, but I should have ordered some raita to go with it.

Husband had the butter chicken which was rich and creamy.  If you do not generally like curry or are just trying it for the first time, I would suggest going with something like butter chicken: it’s the chicken parm of curry.

This is a really good place to go for gluten-free diners, or any kind of diner really, but I am just saying, it is worth rethinking your position on curry houses if you are g/f.  If you are not a fan of saucy dishes, tandoori is a great alternative.  It’s just meat or veggies marinated in yogurt and cooked in a super hot clay oven.

G/F friendly: 4 of 5

Food Taste and Quality: 4.5 of 5

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