Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tamboo should not be considered taboo

Having received first-hand accounts filled with praise for Tamboo Bistro, located on Main Street in Brockton, MA, one wonders if this city’s downtown area, notorious for its lack of culinary flair, is undergoing an upscale transformation. Tamboo, after all, signifies the rhythm of life, and its owners hope to emulate this by serving an eclectic array of both New American and Haitian fare. In the infamous words of Gloria Estefan (and who could omit the accompanying Miami Sound Machine), is Tamboo’s “rhythm going to get me” or will it disappointingly fall flat according to Paul’s Palate?

Location-wise, Tamboo resides at the beginning of Main Street, which resembles a ghost town mid-week, with its empty sidewalks and emptier nearby buildings that remain vacant. Clearly, this is not as bustling an area as initially thought. The restaurant is shockingly devoid of customers upon our arrival, thereby enabling us to meander to the bar area and admire the sleek décor. Clearly, owner Chrismin Charlot has infused a great deal of money renovating this space. From its space-lit entry, to its ultra-modern, hip interior - which includes stylish tables, funky walls, Haitian artwork, mood lighting, and a futuristic bar/lounge area – one feels transported several years ahead in time, if not at least into one of the classy, sophisticated dining scenes found in Boston. The establishment is spotless with the exception of small morsels that stand out on its carpeted entryway.

At the bar, we ogle a wide-ranging variety of cocktails, which are even broken out into categories such as a Sexy list (don’t ask me, just try them). After sipping on delectable pear and mango martinis, mango mojitos (served in bended glasses), and pomegranate margaritas, we make our way to our table, anxious to consume our meals.

Our server, albeit quiet in nature, is pleasant, attentive, and courteous. He provides accurate recommendations in regard to the menu, which include zesty appetizers. The fried calamari possess a nice, squishy texture and mesh well with fiery red peppers. The Haitian fried meatballs with dipping sauce are a legitimate winner. With a lightly crunchy exterior and juicy, spicy interior, I could pop hundreds more of these into my mouth if only I had an expanded stomach capacity to do so. The only lackluster appetizer is the rum-roasted chicken wings, which come highly recommended by our server. Although meaty and flavorful, they more closely resemble buffalo wings than rum-soaked ones.

As with our drinks, we face a difficult task of choosing between a jaw-dropping number of entrees. Fortunately, they are flawlessly presented, large in portion size, and delectable upon arrival. Spicy aromas emanate from uniquely-shaped plates. Juicy goat meet happily swims in a slightly spicy, zesty creole sauce with peppers. A whole red snapper is equally divine, served with onions, peppers, and herbs. Island shrimp sizzled with peppers stands out, however, as the most memorable entrée of the evening with its winning, adventurous combination of ingredients that include brown sugar, cumin, and chili powder.

For dessert, the Raspberry Mont Blanc, a scrumptious concoction of white chocolate mousse, kirsh-soaked raspberries, is playfully presented in a white and red pyramid shell. Light, subtle, and not painfully sweet, I would travel to Egypt and back for another taste of this heavenly, innovative pyramid-like pastry.

It is this reviewer’s hope that Tamboo establishes its own rhythm in terms of attracting a consistent clientele. Certainly, its value cannot be beaten. Where else can fine dining be enjoyed at $15 to $20 per entrée? Hopefully, the mid-week visit and empty tables were not indicative of the fanfare surrounding this welcomed addition to the Brockton community. Otherwise, Paul’s Palate will sadly need to find its rhythm elsewhere.

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