As we were on our way home from dinner at Bombay Club, Mrs. Nadeau said, "We didn't try any curries — we missed that." In fact, we had ordered several stewed dishes. We had, however, gone through all the courses of a lavish Indian restaurant dinner for four without eating anything that tasted like commercial curry powder, or even the cumin-coriander-garlic palate of the typical Punjabi-derived menu at most Indian restaurants. This is a tribute to almost 30 years of effort by the Kapoor family — who first opened a basement Back Bay restaurant, Kebab-N-Kurry, in the 1980s, and then went on to open the upscale Bombay Club in Harvard Square in 1991 — and a few other restaurateurs to bring more of the Indian regional cuisines and modern gourmet developments of the subcontinent to Boston diners.
DOUBLE DIPPING The pakora plate for two is a priced-right pile of batter-fried goodies, and it all has hints of spice.
|Bombay Club | 1415 Washington Street, Boston | 617.247.2500 | Open daily, 11:30 am–1 am | AE, DC, MC, VI | Full bar | Valet parking, Thursday–Saturday | Sidewalk-level access|
The relocated and apparently last Bombay Club of this generation already has gone through one set of menu changes, adding a section of the latest Chinese-Indian fusion dishes to a nifty selection of classics and greatest hits. Things look different right away, as the complimentary papadums have been worked into cones. They are perfectly puffed, so I can't guess the technique. They don't have much taste on their own — that's what the fiery mint chutney and cool tamarind dips are for.
For a classical appetizer, the pakora platter for two ($7) is a priced-right pile of batter-fried goodies: cheese with a minty layer in the middle, whole cauliflower florets, mixed shreds of onion and spinach, and plain slices of potatoes, all with hints of spice. For spice relief, try the kachumber salad ($5): chunks of cucumber, carrot, and onion in a papadum shell with a lively dressing. My favorite appetizer was bikaneri kebab ($6.50) off the new Chinese-Indian menu. It looks like four falafels, but inside it's 90 percent green vegetables with a bit of shredded carrot and binder.
The entrée side of that Chinese-Indian selection produced two big hits for us. Lemon fish karahi ($16) is chunks of fish in a lemon-garlic-tomato sauce that could be just as Italian as Chinese, but it certainly does wonderful things for rice. (It's truly excellent rice, by the way: super-long grain basmati, almost like Persian rice, with bare suggestions of saffron and cumin.) The remainder of the rice went fine with gobhi Manchurian ($14), another great tomato sauce, this time with cauliflower and as hot as the ketchup sauce from Szechuan shrimp.
Heat options don't necessarily affect the outcome here. We ordered the cauliflower hot, but got maybe medium. We ordered the hyderabadi biryani (vegetarian/$14; chicken/$14; lamb/$15; goat/$17;) mild, and, even though it is a slow-food rice dish served with lentils and raita, it had a sneaky bite that put it at about a medium, too. The goat meat in hyderabadi biryani is slightly sweet, like lamb, so the hot rice sets it off well. Baked stuffed zucchini ($18) also had sneaky heat. It wasn't in the zucchini shells, and wasn't in the fresh white cheese filling — must have been in the orange stuff in between. It was served with roasted carrots and greens.