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.”
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?