An invite to the Bombay Brasserie in Kensington came my way, and as someone who enjoys good Indian food I could not possibly turn it down. It also promised good ‘local’ wines to go with the food so I was keen to sample things; I assumed they meant local to India and not to Gloucester Road!
The Bombay Brasserie is located next door to the Millennium Baileys Hotel, and opposite Gloucester Road Tube station, so it is easy to find.
On entering, you are welcomed into a large, smart and stylish open seat bar area. We decided to take cocktails at the bar and view the menus to order before going thorough to the restaurant area, and were able to site in full leather armchairs, with an air of unhurried calm around us. This is an ideal area to sit and drink whilst waiting for others to join you, and a lot calmer than sitting in the Hotel bar next door.
The cocktail menu is comprehensive, adding in numerous Indian twists on classic drinks to give them much more of a cool fresh fruit taste. Some just cry out to be drunk in hot weather; but this is England. So I ordered a Vanilla and Passion Fruit Martini with Absolut vodka, my companion ordering a Melon Marguerita with Tequila, Cointreu, Melon liquor and fresh melon juice. They arrived in large glasses, full of colour, aroma and taste. This could easily be a good cocktail bar location in itself.
The aim of Bombay Brasserie is to present fine Indian dining with dishes from across India. The food is traditional but prepared at its best, both in terms of ingredients and presentation. Whilst sipping the cocktails, and admitting that we really didn’t know what would be the best food to taste from such a wide menu, the restaurant manager, Shailesh Pandya, came to talk to us about the food. Clearly proud of what his team were doing there, we asked him to choose a selection for us that would show off his Chefs abilities. He has more than happy to do this for us and it made the whole meal more balanced and complimentary than if we had been left to our own choices.
We started the meal with a tiny amuse bouche pastry, which was spicy, and sets your taste buds up for the next dishes to come. A nice little trick which worked so well I am surprised so few others do it.
A trio of dishes arrived to start.
Palak Patta Chaat are crispy fried baby spinach in a light batter, served with yoghurt and chutney. A really pretty dish and lovely to eat.
Scallop on Peppered Crab. It’s hot, the crab has a real heat, but the spice doesn’t infuse and spoil the very delicate scallop and this is almost like two dishes working as one.
Chicken Tikka Kalimiri was so different to the typical named takeaway – tiny portions of succulent chicken breast with a cracked pepper coating, then glazed in tandoor. It was really good and so much better than you may have been expecting that it got talked about.
For the mains, two dishes.
Goa Halibut Curry, Halibut simmered in a red spicy sauce of coconut and red chillies.
Dum Ki Nalli, which is slow cooked lamb shanks in a delicate saffron curry.
Now the Bombay Brasserie didn’t know it but these are two of my favorite dishes. I love proper curried fish and this dish did not disappoint. Large chunks of halibut, infused with chilli but still white in the middle; Perfect. The lamb shank is always a good English meal, but when curried it adds a dimension that makes it completely different. The meat was tender, fell off the bone, and had a delicate spiciness to it that let the meats taste and texture still come through; Again perfect.
An assortment of side dishes came with the mains that complimented the food, and also showed the chefs skills. They included:
Lasooni Palak – Sauteed spinach with golden fried garlic
Aloo Katliyan – Spiced potatoe slices
Dal Masala, vegetable Pulao, Fluffy Basmati Rice
For breads we had Naan, Laccha Paratha and a cucumber and mint Raita to go alongside.
The fried garlic on the spinach worked well, adding a real extra flavor to the spinach. The spiced potato was a bit too hot for my palate, being drizzled in chilli flakes, but the presentation was superb.
For dessert I chose a Masala Tea Brulee, which came with a Sesame Tuille, Honey Cream and Pineapple Sorbet. My partner chose mango and fig ice-cream – a lovely and unusual flavour combination served in a crisp biscuit basket. Both calmed the palate down after the spicy food and fully rounded out the meal.
Throughout the meal we drank Indian wines. For the starters we had a Sula Sauvignon Blanc which was light and refreshing, but had quite a lemony zing to it. For the mains a 2008 Ritu Cabernet Sauvignon which was fragrant and full bodied, but needed half an hour to breathe to really bring the flavour out. Fortunately we had opened it alongside the white so it was at its best for later. Most people will know Indian beer, but the wines are a new area for most but definitely to be tried. I will be reviewing more Indian wines soon.
The Bombay Brasserie is one of those hidden gems in London. A really good place to eat that was unrushed and un-crowded, not overly expensive and cheaper than some more central places. The service was impeccable and the range of menu choices enough to impress anyone, with both choice and presentation. Add to this a great cocktail reception area and this is one place I will be going back to.