Food fit for millionaires

Rob Bleaney samples the stunning chef’s tasting menu at a plush restaurant bar at Camden’s southern tip


167 Drury Lane, WC2

0207 831 9399

TAMARAI is a bold, brash bar restaurant that feels like the sort of flash Singaporean hang-out that disgraced banker Nick Leeson might have frequented before he lost �800 million – but little would you know it from the street.

Unassuming from the outside, you have to negotiate a long tunnel and a non-descript flight of stairs before you get any hint of the riches that lie below.

It makes for a rather unusual entrance to say the least, but when you finally arrive it’s a pretty dazzling sight.

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A stylish back-lit bar dominates the room, while golden candlestick holders glisten in the darkness.

Huge wooden tables, plush soft seats and black table cloths lend the place an air of mystery, as does the clientele, seemingly made up of businessmen from all corners of the earth and their glamorous entourages.

It’s about as far away as you can get from your average down-to-earth neighbourhood restaurant, and the food on offer is just as lavish.

Head chef Manish Mehrotra trained extensively on the Lotus Trail from Chettinad to Burma, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, and his wonderfully inventive tasting menu showcases the finest pan-Asian dishes and flavours.

A fantastically unusual sweet chilli lotus root, a beautifully light and fluffy soft shell crab, some stunning black tiger prawns and a masterful Thai green curry were among the highlights – but almost every dish was stunning.

Having both a white chocolate semi freddo and a seasonal fruit satay for dessert was also a particular pleasure, and took away any new year agonising over whether to keep things healthy.

This place is not about being sensible in any case, and for the complete experience the wine tasting menu is a must, especially with a selection which saw Tamarai awarded the title of Best Wine List in London in the Independent on Sunday in 2007.

As the evening drew on the venue morphed into a swish bar, complete with dance floor and underlit VIP area, making for some classic people watching as we sat back to digest the feast of flavours that passed our lips.

None of this comes cheap, and thanks to old Leeson and his banking chums, the whole world is a bit broke right now, but even us mere mortals need spoiling from time to time.


Mains: from �15

Chef’s tasting menu: �52 per person

Wines: from �19.50

Children welcome: No

Disabled access: No