All things bright and beautiful in Birmingham
I’ve been eyeing up Tamatanga for a while, watching the building transform as if by a real life instagram filter, becoming brighter and brighter and lighting up what is normally a dull stretch of road alongside the train station. There is no denying that Birmingham is experiencing a boom in Indian Street food, some expanding to new venues after breakout success at Digbeth Dining club whilst others are drawn in to the city from further afield. This Nottingham group join the scene at a time where Birmingham really knows its food and has plenty to choose from in an ever competitive scene.
Wandering in on a saturday afternoon, it was suprisingly busy for the first week of trading with plenty of people both in the dining area and at the bar. After a warm greeting at the door we took a table at the bar whilst we waited for tables to free up. The bar staff chatted with us about the offers availabile and we were quickly convinced to try out the 2 for 1 cocktail deal after looking at the menu, (although both drinks do have to be the same) Ravenous, we opted for Mango and Chilli Mojito’s- the thick puree filling the gap before dinner and enveloping the tongue in the sweet yet spicy fruit with the hum of chilli softened by sharp, fresh mint. The thicker consistency and deep flavour made this an ideal way to start our meal whilst still fending off our hunger (this was our own fault for not eating all day)
At the table we dived into the menu and selected an offer for 3 small plates and 2 chaats as a means to try out as many dishes as possible (but also concious that we were eating out later that evening) because it seemed like a really good deal.
Whilst the menu is full of exciting options, we played it relatively safe but would absolutely return to try out the wider range on offer.
Our small plates were all equally delicious , Bang bang chicken satisfied my current insatiable desire for crispy fried chicken, the marinade adding heat and depth of flavour. I devoured several pieces before paying any attention to the accompanying garnishes.. Prawn tempura came with a light crisp batter wrapped around the large succulent shellfish. In my personal food heirarchy prawns fly high on the list and these did not dissapoint, the chutney adding piquancy and a warm, comforting mouth feel. Our final plate was tender slabs of lamb tikka, the heavy marinade was welcome giving a punch of flavour to the meltingly soft meat. Whilst not unusual menu options, all of the small plates were exceptionally good.
Whilst we intended to sample each dish at the same time, its difficult not to be drawn in by plates of aromatic meat and crispy batter so when we moved on to the two plates of chaat we had almost forgotten we ordered them despite the huge plates on the table.
Opting for traditional chaat bombs and the more hipster friendly kale version we were impressed at how different the two plates were. Whilst sharing the same sticky tamarind based sauces the traditional version arrived topped with sprouted seeds and vermicelli for a textural crunch. Mouthwateringly good puffs accompanied a plentiful serving of chick peas and sauces leading to the all familiar desire for ‘just one more bite’. The modern version with crispy kale and diced potato clearly has considered it’s market well, zingy blueberries and bright mint yogurt make for a visually pleasing plate that also delivers on flavour. This fruitier option feels light yet indulgent- a clever trick of the brain that tells you to keep eating as it’s good for you despite the accompanying fried good and cocktails. We polished off our plates of curiously cold chaat with delight and washed them down with a round of spicy ginger beer based cocktails. We left with the resounding pleasure of a good meal,without feeling like over indulged gluttons rolling towards the train.
Impeccable service, interesting cocktails and a menu to make your stomach rumble- what we thought would be a quick lunch venue turned out to be the ideal place for a languid evening of drinks with friends surrounded by plates heaving with wonder. I’m torn as to whether this wins my favour over the Indian Brewery but only time will tell.
Birmingham is famed for its love of Indian food but it seems a modern revival is in full swing with no signs of stopping. An exciting time for the second city.
Orion Building, Navigation Street, Birmingham, B5 4AX