By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Since opening way back in 1982, Bombay Brasserie’s mission has always been to present London with the authentic food of Bombay in all its ethnic variety. And having dined at the recently refurbished restaurant last week, it’s safe to say that the restaurant manages to deliver that promise, as well as much more.
In recent years, there’s been a huge increase in competition when it comes to fine Indian cuisine within the city, however, what’s instantly refreshing, and promising, is to find that the venue’s head chef – Prahlad Hegde – is actually from India, where he undertook some extensive training before taking the job at Bombay Brasserie in 1991.
Upon entering the restaurant, just a five second walk from Gloucester Road tube, you’ll be greeted and whisked through the double doors that conceal the restaurant’s externally misleading grandeur, with subtle shades of green and brown, and plenty of light and space where a rare live pianist performs a mixture of classic and contemporary pop compositions. Soon after taking our seats we’re greeted by the friendly manager who insists that we must taste some of the restaurant’s signature Cocktails. The Goji Berry Margarita is good, but it’s the Mango and Chilli Mojito that really shines. We already know that Mango works with both Chilli and Mint, separately, but with a dash of good Rum, the ingredients take on a harmonious marriage within the glass.
As for the menu, it’s intended to reflect the cultural diversity of Bombay (now Mumbai) with influences that span from Parsi, Goan, Bengali, and Gujerati. What’s also impressive is the fact that the chef takes great pride in making up a menu for those either unsure of what to order, or adventurous enough to be guided by somebody who’s, frankly, blessed with a far deeper knowledge of Indian cooking than most in the room.
Unable to choose between three starters, we’re simply provided with a taster sized portion of each, an unadventurous, yet delectable spiced King Prawn, a well seared Scallop which adopts its optimum texture – falling somewhere between Jellyfish and rubber – and a delicious Duck cake. In fact, all were so delicious I could’ve gluttonously worked my way through a full plateful of each. What’s more, we also got to taste the restaurant’s most popular starter: Palak Patta Chaat (crispy baby Spinach, Yogurt, Date and Tamarind Chutney). On paper it’s easy to bypass, but the combination of ingredients is so delicious that the restaurant should probably print its popularity onto the menu.
Next up, our mains are equally impressive, albeit spicier than expected, a Venison Roast that’s joined by Onion, Tomato, Ginger, a selection of Spices and some Coconut slivers, while my partner enjoyed an Apricot based Lamb Curry topped with crispy straw Potatoes, joined by a huge selection of Breads, Rice and Vegetables, recommended by our waiter. For dessert there’s a range of Kulfi and Indian Ice Creams (I opted for the Malai Kulfi which was Cardamom and Milk flavoured) as well as a decadent selection of Chocolate desserts, which features an interesting sweet Samosa that’s filled with rich dark Chocolate.
The food and service at Bombay Brasserie are both remarkable, with our recent visit providing an extremely pleasant surprise, exceeding the expectations set by some of the Capital’s other high-end Indian kitchens, with a good-sized three-course meal for two available for around the £100 mark.
Bombay Brasserie can be found at Courtfield Road, London, SW7 4QH