Review: Bombay Bar and Grill

By Ashley Robinson

  • Stars: 3.5/5
  • Price Point: Approx. $12 a dish.
  • Located: On 21st between N and Capitol

There’s this scenario I often play through my mind at restaurants.

A woman has invited her lover to dinner to – wait, hold on, I need to explain this scenario is not based on personal experiences, but just rather something I made up to amuse myself … ok, back to scene — A woman has invited her lover to a restaurant to tell him she is pregnant with his baby. Heart pumping, adrenaline rushing (think the restaurant scene in “The Godfather” when Michael has to kill the Turk and McCluskey), she sits there waiting for his response after the big reveal.

And just as the lover opens his mouth to express whatever feeling he has at this pivotal moment, the waiter comes over to ask if the couple would like … WATER.

Yes, water. The whole moment is destroyed by Molly Pitcher coming to the rescue.

While checking out the newest Indian restaurant on the scene, the overzealous service at Bombay Bar and Grill made that scenario waddle through my paneer-adled brain several times.

My friend Emily Currin went with me. Emily is a self-proclaimed un-foody but still appreciates a fine dining experience. In the effort of being a pseudo-food critic (ala Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”), she pulls out her yuppy moleskin notebook and starts jotting down notes.

I would guess the waiters caught on we were some kind of “restaurant critics” thus the inaugurated tripping over themselves to leave a lasting impression. (I told her to put the damn thing away.)

But I am digressing. Or burying the lead, as real journalist Julia Roberts would put it.

Other than the wonky service, I thought it was a good new restaurant.

Not stellar, but worth a second or tenth visit.

Here’s why I would recommend it:

I loved the menu. It was HUGE, diverse – lots of vegetarian options, lamb, I think maybe seafood was thrown in there, and all very flavorful. We ordered the Bombay appetizer plate which consisted of samosas, pakora and some fried dumpling thing. It was sooo good – flavorful, interesting and not too fried, but still heavy. Don’t know if I would start out a large dinner with heavy apps again. Or maybe I would. Who knows.

Then we ordered the lamb tandoori and the chicken saagwala dish. The deal with this menu is that the listed price for each item is just the entrée in whatever guise they serve it. For three bucks extra, you can get this huge platter of your entrée, rice (really really good basmati rice), dal, naan and saag. The platters are beautiful antique-looking silver trays and as I said, huge. As a lamb lover, I thought the tandoori dish was pretty decent. But I thought the saagwala was really, really good. Next time I want to check out the American favorite, chicken tikka masala. Looked yummy.

The wine list wasn’t half bad either. It has a full bar, as the name implies, so might be fun for a girls night out. Cozy, unique and booze.

Here’s my reasoning for not giving it 5 stars:

One, when I walked in, they sat me at this tiny table in the middle of the room facing the hall to the bathroom. I get that customers are given tables in strategic spots, but if the place is half filled (or empty) give me a nicer location in the restaurant. On my volition, I moved to another table. I was not going to stare at people treading back and forth from the loo while sucking down dal.

Secondly, Emily said she thought the meat was a little too dry. But I would argue that most Indian dish meats are on the dry side. I think it’s just because of it is prepared for long periods of time. Plus, in countries where meat is a luxury, lower-quality meats are recreated into masterpieces with spices and side dishes. (For example: Ireland’s corned beef or Mexico’s Taco Bell crunchy tacos.)

Third, the service, as mentioned above was a little intense. (I am not picky on service, I am picky on interruptions in good conversation … that’s all.)

Fourth, they threw away my food after I asked for a box to take it home. And then when I asked about it, they said they misplaced it … yea, in the trash.

Fifth, and this isn’t so much my issue with Bombay Bar and Grill as is at most good little restaurants, I need more table space. Places like this, and Tapa the World, for example, I can’t have a tiny table when I am going to be ordering a whole bunch of small plates. And then when the waiter notices your gluttony, they have to slide the next table (if available) over, thus drawing the attention of the entire restaurant. Just make sure you don’t have you mouth full masala as they haul the table over. Hum-il-i-ation.

All in all, Emily and I had a good time. We talked about our crazy moms, the opposite sex, unique and bizarre book club ideas, modern-day transcendentalism and the rise of neo-fascist feminists within our political party. Just another night out with ol’ Currin.

I would definitely recommend Bombay Bar and Grill. Hopefully they will tune down their service, in a good way. But it’s still worth a try.

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  1. Amelia Neufeld says

    Next time explain what the food is, silly!! I don’t know all of the Indian terms are!! 🙂

  2. Patrick "SMEB" Harbison says

    Not mad at this review. Went on a Tuesday a couple weeks back. Good portions for the price, awesome drink specials and a familiar bar tender (Black Pearl anyone!)… Having said that, finding good Indian in Sacramento is somewhat of a challenge. I’d say my experience here clowned on Kathmandu Kitchen (Broadway), but that’s most likely due to my excessive drinking beforehand. Double it!

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