Indian beer would be the drink of choice, but with some of the dishes you could get away with Champagne, such as the very well made Cristalino cava brut ($8.50/split) from Spain. The impact of this fine dry sparkler is somewhat lost in Champagne cocktails such as a gulab ($10.50), in which it’s cut with pomegranate, like a kind of tropical kir. A Mumbai martini ($8.50) has nothing to do with a martini, except for the glass. It’s a sweet cocktail of mango and whatever.
Dessert is not a strong course here. The best we had was tomato kulfi ($5), an enticing twist on the usual hard sherbets that are strongly flavored with cardamom and pistachio. This had a smoother texture and more subtlety, probably because it was house made. Molten chocolate cake ($5) wasn’t molten — it was stale, saved only by some vanilla ice cream. Sweet-potato cake ($5) was just a sweet-potato slice with coconut topping.
Service on a slow night was excellent. The room, previously an ordinary Indian restaurant, has been opened to the street with French café windows and repaved with slate and quarry tile; the walls are decorated with modern arts and crafts. All these bistro-esque departures from the typical Indian restaurant are then tempered with classical Indian vocal music. Bollywood soundtracks would be cooler, but perhaps déclassé.
The most obvious compromise in the second location has been chili-pepper intensity, probably so as not to overwhelm delicate New England seafood. Next summer, let’s connect chef Wali with some fresh bluefish. Meanwhile, he should get into crabs, cherrystone clams, and maybe some tuna — those might relight his fire. And the dessert list needs reinforcements. But Tamarind Bay Coastal Cuisine is a worthy running mate on a ticket that was already winning by a landslide.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at RobtNadeau@aol.com.