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Address: 598 New North Road
Phone: (09) 815 8080
Some measure of a restaurant is how it receives you if you turn up with a few extra guests than you booked for. More of a test is if you arrive - as we did at Tiffin - with an apology that our table for six was now reduced to just two because our guests cancelled at the last minute.
To their considerable credit, Tiffin showed not a sliver of annoyance or disappointment (embarrassed, we couldn't help notice the table-for-six set up) and we were ushered to a decent table and given every courtesy.
Tiffin is something of an Indian favourite for us and we had first appeared at their door a week after they opened about six months ago. They were terrific then, worked hard to please and delivered the biggest and most tasty chicken tikka entrée I have ever seen.
Early days, and they were perhaps out to make an impression. But since then the welcome has been equally warm and the servings generous and delicious. We have told friends.
Tiffin - the common name for Indian lunch - struggled in its early days and most nights we were among the few there.
Being close to Eden Park - two minutes from Morningside station if you still dare to take a train and 10 minutes' easy walk from the grounds - should have helped, but on rugby nights they were even more quiet.
So we were delighted on this particular Friday to find the place almost full. Some favourable mentions in print obviously helped but my guess is word of mouth has spread the news.
I sidestepped my natural choice of the chicken tikka entrée in favour of an equally substantial and excellent fish tikka (solid and moist pieces, broadbill I believe). Megan and I shared that and her vegetable pakoras (unfortunately just a little on the pasty side) which came with the customary sweet 'n' tart tamarind sauce and cooling mint chutney.
My excellent main was the chef's speciality, lamb nawabi, which is cooked with onions in spicy coconut sauce. Megan ordered chicken do piaza, which is a dry curry and although it arrived with rather more sauce than expected, it left an interestingly dry aftertaste. We also ordered navrattan korma (vegetables in a creamy cashew nut gravy).
These were all as good as anticipated, each with a pleasingly different flavour and aftertaste, although I would have liked a little more lamb. And although the peshwari naan was tasty (how could it not be with almonds, coconut, raisins and sliced cherries?) the base was rather burned, as it was on the plain naan.
Small and unexpected disappointments then from an otherwise reliable favourite. But the happy ambience (a birthday party, couples and smaller groups), enthusiasm of the staff and the comfortable setting compensated.
And because we know how consistently good they are we deliberately over-ordered on those mains so we could enjoy small tastes the next day.
Take that as a tip from a regular. And invite friends when you go. Reliable ones.
Rating out of 10
Our meal: $89.60 for two entrees, three mains, two servings of naan bread, and extra pickle and chutney.
Wine list: Perfunctory, but this is a neighbourhood restaurant and BYO.
Verdict: Tiffin's quality is local knowledge around Morningside but now attracts patrons from further afield to this small precinct west of Kingsland where it is easier to park. The chic French wine bar, Winehot, is directly opposite for a drink before dinner.