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Laban slams Tiffin Bistro in 1-bell takedown. What about you? Any reviews?

Tiffin Bistro

Unfortunately, the Inky’s Craig Laban found plenty to despise in Tiffin Bistro, the first Indian foray into South Philly besides the restaurant’s upscale sister, Tashan.

Tiffin Bistro, which opened in June at 11th and Federal in the old Kris location, came up short on the food and on the service, Laban said in his 1-bell review:

The fact that my gunpowder scallops were shooting blanks, their thin crust lacking any noticeable heat, their bouncy centers overcooked, was just the latest indicator on a menu that is light on new inspiration and cooked with workmanlike lack of soul. The service, supposedly an emphasis here meant to distinguish the Bistro from its more bare-bones Tiffin sibling, wasn’t doing the kitchen any favors.

“Why don’t I tell you what I don’t recommend?” said my second waiter, unsolicited, setting a bright new standard for server forthrightness. “I’m not too big on the pepper crab. And I would not get the vegetable Seekh kebab, either.”

Yeesh. And:

How can a restaurant group with such a solid track record suddenly deliver such a fine mess?

Laban was on such a roll that we started to wonder why he gave any bells at all, until we got to this redeeming part of the review:

There are definitely some worthy highlights, especially with the starters. The chaat of fried baby eggplants drizzled with yogurt and multihued chutneys is a novel twist on the crunchy-creamy-tart chaat salad craze that’s finally taking hold locally. The cauliflower bezule, florets crisped in chickpea batter, then glazed in creamy coconut and mustard seed, are a hearty taste of South India.

The “Indian Sloppy Joe” sliders, in fact a street food called keema pau of chicken minced with green chiles and ginger, are worth coming back for. The baby calamari, simmered delicately in a creamy coconut chile-curry, is one of the more unusual squid preparations in town.

So, that means there’s hope. What do you think?


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11 Responses to Laban slams Tiffin Bistro in 1-bell takedown. What about you? Any reviews?

  1. Jeff September 23, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    That’s too bad.. Personally I thought the food was amazing both times I went. The Malai Kofta is total perfection. I’ve heard that service can be hit or miss though.

  2. AL September 23, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Pretty fair assessment overall. Some decent items on the menu but the food is not on the same level as the original Tiffin or even Ekta….and the service has a long way to go.

  3. Aruna September 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I’m a first generation Indian – and I found the food to be a-okay. Nothing amazing, and there isn’t much that I’d go back for. The service was always good in my opinion – but the food left something to be desired.

    I like the Cauliflower bezule also – but not much else stood out to me.

  4. Adam September 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    It was good but not great. But it took over 1.5 hours for delivery! (I live within 6 blocks, I was just feeling lazy).

  5. ambiguator September 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Laban reviews this place as if it’s going after the same market as other high-end restaurants, like Fond or Noord. If they are, then fair enough.

    I’d put them more in the realm of Circles or even Devil’s Den.
    And I think they nailed the value at that price point.

    • david September 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      I completely agree with this post

  6. Allison September 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    I don’t understand why doesn’t have the same Tiffin menu as his other restaurants. The menu is lacking some of the old standbys that I know and love from Tiffin and that’s a bummer. Give South Philly what we want – yummy indian food – we don’t need the “bistro” version of the menu.

  7. wb September 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    The menu has so few options!

  8. Rick September 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I’ve been to Tiffin Bistro three times since its opening and have enjoyed the food each time. Last time was with a group of eight and we had a terrific time. The cuisine will not open your eyes like Tashan but it is solid, middle-of-the-road Indian cuisine. For instance, the tikka masala here was exactly the same as at the Tiffin in Mt. Airy. I suspect they have been compromised by their chef musical-chairs with Tashan. The announced chef is now apparently the chef at Tashan. And, I do have to agree that the servers and front of house folks seem bored and not-so-attentive. Still, the food is great for what it is. Hence, if they can get the servers and hosts to shape up – more welcoming and engaged would be good – I see a great future for this much-needed place.

  9. LKS September 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Best I’ve had- no but the staff was friendly and for a local spot food was fine. I am always mystified that anyone would read one person’s opinion and hold that as anything other than that- someone’s opinion.

  10. david September 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    I’ve eaten there once and i’d go back again- the food was great and the service was friendly. I hope the Laban review does not do too much damage

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