Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, November 09, 2005
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Though contempo-cool, the presentation at Bombay Bistro is only half as killer as the fare.
Bombay Bistro
Bistro Sampler Platter $11.45
Spinach paneer $6.45
Makhani curry chicken $7.45
Mango rice pudding $2.45
Pistachio ice cream $2.45
Gulab jamun $2.45
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
New Deli

Inspired by London’s East End, the recently opened Bombay Bistro is a hip take on Indian cuisine.

By ANTHONY MARIANI

Bombay Bistro

9116 Camp Bowie West, FW. 817-560-9996. Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm. All major credit cards accepted.

A lot of folks put a little too much emphasis on “authentic” ethnic food. Someone needs to tell them that “authentic” doesn’t always equal “good.”

Someone also needs to tell them that the concept itself is kind of bogus. No amount of sombrero-shaped salt boats makes a Mexican restaurant. No number of plastic waterfalls, Chinese. No degree of misanthropic ’tude, Italian.

Fort Worth’s two, lauded Indian restaurants — Maharaja and Bombay Grill — are both authentic and wonderful, and they make sure diners know it. Their menus overflow with dishes from a time when Pakistani culinary influences predominated, and all of the decorative accents could have come straight from the British East India Company.

Hello, Indian foodies! There’s more to the country than cumin and tantric art!

There’s also Bombay (now known as Mumbai). With a population in the gazillions, India’s business capital and largest city is home to probably more Western ex-pats than any other Third World metropolis, including Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Toronto. (Just kidding, Canada.) Bombay is also about as British as London is Indian — and that’s a lot. For the awesome invention of curry powder, we actually have the Britons to thank. (To the makers of “authentic” Pakistani-influenced Indian food, “curry” represents an acquiescence to Westernized tastes.)

Located in a shoebox in White Settlement, in a strip mall between a Kroger and a 99¢ Store, Bombay Bistro is a slice of London-by-way-of-Bombay that’s so chic, uppity folks would say it belongs in either Dallas or Sundance Square. From a simple color palette of black, brick red, and concrete gray, the décor is roadside diner-meets-feng shui: functional and plain but really hip.

On the two walls not occupied by signage are a couple of large, black, metallic, two-dimensional sculptures of indeterminate Eastern origin that resemble ships’ wheels, plus an original work of art in which four small, identically sized, rectangular, black-framed blocks form a single, large rectangle; the gray background of each component is stamped with a simple, red, Indian-inspired design. On a mini-counter near the entrance, a shiny silver, foot-high sculpture that looks like a three-dimensional G-clef rotates slowly and quietly. Amazingly, the quaint cafeteria chairs all around are as cool as everything else.

The food is equally suave. It’s Indian — but not like grandma knew it. Before Bombay Bistro opened two months ago, the owners flew in the executive chef of a huge Indian food franchise in England to help construct the menu, train the chefs, and provide inspiration. The contempo-cool way the entrées are presented — three small, square bowls inside a large, square bowl — is probably his handiwork.

Bombay Bistro offers three varieties of curry — Korma (mild), Makhani (medium), and Madras (hot) — and each can be “set ablaze,” as the menu says, by the addition of chile peppers and spices. The curry in the Makhani chicken dish was soupy in consistency yet as dense in flavor as any curry in town. The curry in the Korma spinach paneer (with tofu cubes) suggested almond, cashew, and coconut.

All main courses were accompanied by several sides: a fresh salad that was mostly iceberg lettuce and cucumbers; warm, chewy naan (bread) sprinkled with cinnamon that was outrageously delicious, especially when dipped in the complimentary, credit card-sized dish of raita (yogurt, cucumber, assorted herbs); and rice pilaf whose individual grains were kissed on the ends by bright yellows and pinks. It looked like a teensy bowl of Fruit Loops.

The menu has about as many appetizers as entrées. One good way to get going is with the sampler platter, a mix of any four starters. The lamb samosas (dumplings) were a tad greasy but delivered a hearty kick of sweet-and-salty, though the beef kebabs were disappointingly dry, likely from too much time in the tandoor oven. The stand-out appetizer was the spinach and onion pakora — spicy, hearty, jagged balls of diced potatoes, spinach, and onions that had been dipped in batter.

Before getting started, take heed: While a glass of the yogurt-based shake called lassi will definitely wet your whistle, the drink will also fill you up big time. If you want to imbibe an “authentic” Indian beverage, try either the house shiraz or a bottle of Golden Eagle beer, “solace in the form of an amber liquid,” according to the advertising slogan.

Like any quality Indian eatery in London’s famed East End, Bombay Bistro serves up some tasty desserts. The bread pudding was sweet, refreshing, and golden yellow; the pistachio ice cream had the texture of a snowball but was melt-in-your-mouth decadent; and the gulab jamun arrived in the form of several, extraordinarily sugary, golf ball-sized pieces of sponge cake, swimming in syrup and rose water.

A good reflection of both Bombay and Bombay Bistro pulsed from the restaurant’s speakers. With lots of tabla and sitar, the everyday ambient music sounded like traditional Indian folk, but the beats beneath marked the passage of time in snappy, sparkling, modern tempo. Welcome to 2005, Indian foodies.


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