This particular Friday evening was a special occasion & a surprise for the 2 birthday twins, Charlie & our good friend Colin Barrell. It was down to myself & Steph [Barrells patient wife] to find a suitable spot & after much back & forth we landed on Tamarind Hill. We had heard excellent reports with many saying it offers some of the finest Thai food in Singapore so we headed out with high expectations.
It is set in a stunning location. Nestled atop the forested Labrador Nature Reserve, the huge restaurant is a beautifully preserved black & white colonial bungalow set amongst vast greenery that feels a million miles away from the bright lights of central Singapore. There can be fewer more impressive walks to a restaurant as you climb the steps to this imposing, beautiful building.
This continues inside where the square bar sits centrally in the main entrance, beneath enormous chandeliers & amongst candlelight. Given the size of the place the tables are well separated & surprisingly for a Friday night there were very few guests inside which led to a rather downbeat atmosphere. Huge venues such as this really do need the noise & bustle of others to give it some energy. Nonetheless, we were still impressed & excited to get stuck into the food & wine.
Keeping on the positive trend, the wine list is excellent. We worked through a fair few bottles of delicious New Zealand Babich & at 75 Singapore Dollars that’s pretty good value. Sadly, the rest of our experience was not a positive one.
We ordered a selection of the appetizers, including Crispy Calamari, Pork Dumplings & both the Beef & Chicken Skewers. Pretty simple stuff, but in a restaurant famed for his excellence we expected it to be elevated from the normal. It wasn’t. In fact it was less interesting than any number of regular Thai restaurants. What is particularly inexcusable is that it was also cold. This meant the Calamari had to be sent back. Saggy batter on cold seafood is not good.
The main courses were an improvement, but honestly, they were also totally unremarkable. The rice comes first. Luke warm at best. Then came the main events, which were all shared. The Beef Massaman curry was tasty, with good chunks of succulent beef & a deeply flavoured sauce with mini potatoes. The Minced Chicken & Basil is a dish I love & often choose in Thai restaurants but this was just ok. Lacking any really punch & as goes the theme, it was cold. We also had a Chicken Red Curry. Forgettable. Stir Fried Pork with Garlic. Equally forgettable. Everything needed some extra spice, heat, flavour & a bit of love. It was lazy cooking.
What was also surprising [unfortunately not in a positive way] was the poor service. Having to ask for clean cutlery, no comments about taking back cold food, no nod to the birthdays that they knew all about & a general lack of warmth from the staff is at odds with the concept of Fine Thai Dining.
As we were leaving, the maitre d’ told us they had a big wedding the next day, as well as on the Sunday, so perhaps the chef & the team had their efforts set on that, because there was very little effort going elsewhere in the restaurant.
The place is certainly spectacular & should be memorable but on this particular evening it was major let down. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that this was a one off since it does seem to hit the right notes with other people. We might go back to the stunning Labrador Park for a walk, but will admire Tamarind Hill from the outside.
Tamarind Hill, 30 Labrador Villa Rd, Singapore 119189