Some very heavy caveats with this review. Not only did the owner know that I was there, but they had invited me down and offered a free starter and main for both me and a friend. Let me explain…
After reading the negative comments about the place posted by TanTan customers on my original review, I was approached by the owner James and invited back in for a meal. He completely accepts responsibility for the nightmare experiences that some diners seem to have had, citing over-booking and brand new front of house staff as the cause. He was keen to demonstrate that things had changed, and so offered a free starter and main for myself and a friend to go back and review. I went back mid-week to give the place another go…
The emptiness of the restaurant was one thing that hadn’t changed since my last visit. When we arrived, just ourselves and another table were occupying the (rather large) restaurant, with a further party of four being seated as we were about to leave after our meal. We were told that they had been rushed off their feet with the various voucher site deals that TanTan had run, and realised that they were trying to do too much – too many dishes on the menu, relying on brand new and inexperienced front of house staff to be the faces of the restaurant on busy nights…it all got a little too much.
We noticed the first change when we were handed the menus. My original visit boasted a ridiculously large menu, so it’s hardly surprising that their kitchen couldn’t cope on busy nights. It was good, therefore, to see that the menu has been slimmed down significantly to eight starters, eight mains and six sides: a simple, one page affair that boasts a range of Moroccan dishes. Much more manageable than the previous menu, which had more than double the number of main course options.
Interestingly, TanTan have also reduced the prices of their food. You won’t pay more than £4 for a starter, and the most expensive main is only £7.95. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll be paying extra for rice or couscous with most dishes, should you want it.
I decided to order something different from last time, and went for the Mini Meshoui (£3.95) to start. Described as ‘two skewers of marinaded chicken, served on a bed of mixed leaves and various dips’, I was expecting a garlicky marinade from the name. Instead, what I got was two skewers of (perfectly cooked) chicken, in a sweet, cinnamon-laced marinade. No complaints whatsoever, as it was delicious, it just wasn’t quite what I expected.
This was served with a generous portion of salad and three dips: a mild salsa-style tomato dip, one containing yoghurt and cucumber, and a slightly different take on hummus with a strong lemon flavour.
My dining partner ordered the Gambetta (also £3.95), a mini tagine full of shell-off prawns in a tomato, garlic and coriander sauce. A very generous portion once again, with lots of prawns and large chunks of tomato and full of flavour. The Moroccan bread with which it was served came in handy for mopping up the remnants of the sauce at the end. Happy so far!
Onto the mains, and the TanTan tagine for both of us – lamb for me, chicken for my companion. Impressive portion sizes once again, for £7.95, and we didn’t really need to order the portion of rice that we’d asked for.
The lamb in my tagine was on the bone and cooked well, falling apart easily under my fork. An impressive selection of vegetables accompanied the meat: courgettes, carrots, peas, artichoke…possibly not the most authentic Moroccan combination I’ve seen, but certainly tasty. Sadly the new potatoes that the dish included were a little on the undercooked side, but a general thumbs up from both of us, and certainly a better-cooked main than the last time we visited.
We didn’t have space for dessert, so paid for our drinks and left. A definite improvement on the last visit, and I think a reduction in the size of the menu was definitely wise. While the food may not be as authentically Moroccan as may be expected, the recent employment of a member of front of house stuff who is actually from Tantan in Morocco may be the start of some further changes.
It’s cheap and cheerful, they’ve obviously taken on board the complaints from previous diners, and the restaurant is definitely moving in the right direction. I’d be interested to hear from those who have eaten at TanTan recently – let’s hope that this is a step towards better success…
Address: Unite House, Unit 1, Frogmore Street, Bristol BS1 5NA
Telephone: 0117 934 6695
Find Tantan on the Bristol Bites Directory…