Mint Leaf is out and Tigerlily is in. Hailing from the same owners and partners, Deepak Aggarwal (Mint Leaf, Khana Peena) and the Farm League Design & Management Group (East Bay Spice Company, Westbrae Biergarten) opened up Tigerlily, a new Indo-Asian, California fusion restaurant located in Berkeley's gourmet ghetto.
They've been open for a little over a month and everyone's raving about the tikka masala fried chicken. My excitement skyrockets to the thought of my mouth biting into this crispy piece of heaven, so we went to check it out.
Tigerlily's menu is fun and the creativity shows on the plate. Chef Joel Lamica (Bix, Nojo, Ramen Shop) runs the kitchen and the menu changes daily, prepared using produce from local farmer's markets and regional purveyors for meat and fish. The options are limited but diverse. Tigerlily operates "tiger style", which is to embrace the challenge of cooking delicious organic produce, using each ingredient to its full potential with as little waste as possible.
The inside of the restaurant is bright and open with televisions above the bar playing classic Indian films.
It was a chilly and beautiful day outside, so we wanted to enjoy dinner in the patio area with the heaters to warm us up. This section really should be two people to a table because it can get pretty tight.
Tandoori Monterey Bay Squid ($13)
Served with squid ink naan, Joel's chili oil, hazelnuts, salsa verde, and carrot puree. This was a nice way to start off our meal. The naan was crusty and fluffy, could have used a touch more salt in the dough. I can't really tell the difference between the naan with or without squid ink, but I loved the comforting flavors combined with the squid and chili oil. A squeeze of lemon added a nice acidity that brightened it up.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Tikka Masala Sauce ($24)
I've never had chicken breast so tender and cooked perfectly. That says a lot for someone who hates white meat. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk with turmeric and hot sauce for two days, then fried to crispy perfection in a lovely batter. Deepak's tikka masala sauce was rich and filled with aromatic spices. The collard greens, fried sage and red lasoda potato mash were thoughtful sides. I killed the entire plate.
An idea as simple as fried chicken and tikka masala sauce? I never thought of combining the two and now I don't think I can eat fried chicken the same way anymore. It comes off like southern fried chicken, but tastes like Indian tikka masala.
Green Buns and Lamb ($18)
I don't eat lamb, but Patrick says the burger was so good that he'd order it again. It's a garam masala spiced lamb burger with cheddar cheese, fried kaki farm egg, house fermented pickles, Natalie's raita and chili oil served on a house made green garlic and nettle brioche with Indian spiced bacon. I tried the spiced bacon and loved it so much that we're inspired to make a similar version at home.
We look forward to going back and trying out the rest of the menu. The garden-inspired craft cocktail program (sister to East Bay Spice Company) looks very unique and worth the return to check out alone. A big welcome to the neighborhood, Tigerlily!
1513 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA
(510) 540 7900
- Wednesday-Monday 5:30-10:30 pm
- Closed: Tuesday.
- No reservations, walk-ins only.