Bombay Brasserie in Gloucester Road is one of the first Indian Restaurants that I’ve been to in London and it is one of the original posh Indian restaurants. The decor is elegant but relaxed, with massive chandeliers in the main dining room. It is certainly not your usual local Indian. My memories of it are of the colonial style seating in the conservatory and not a terribly imaginative menu. My last visit was about 3 years ago, with some Gujerati friend who are regulars, where we had a good but rather pedestrian meal.
Fast forward to 2010, a revamp of their menu accompanied by an interior renovation, bringing the Bombay Brasserie bang up to date.
Being a complete chillie addict, I could not turn down the invite to sample their new Chilli Gourmet Menu, designed by Grand Master Chef Hemant Oberoi who oversees the restaurants for the Taj Groups globally. His CV is unbelievably impressive from cooking in Davos to cooking for Royalty and Heads of States to overseeing a banquet for 30,000 people at a Mittal wedding. He jetted into London in time for our dinner and brought with him about 30 varieties of chillies for the new menus and they were used in such interesting ways on the menu.
On arrival, we were tempted with a couple of Chilly Cocktails, the Chocolate Chilly Cocktail and the Guava Juice and Chilli Cocktail, quite unusual flavours with an unexpected kick from the chillies. These were accompanied by some bite size canapes.
As we were led to the new live kitchen in the middle of the old conservatory room, we meet out chef, Silva, for the night. He was busy preparing our meal and we started with an amuse bouche of potato cake with tamarind chutney.This kitchen has the worlds strongest extractor fan as we could not even smell the cooking smells even sitting about one foot away from the hot plate.
The first dish on the menu was Peeli Mirch Ka Scallop with griddled curry leaf, yellow chilli powder and Goan style pan fried goan chillies flavoured halibut on a bed of spicy prawns. Of the 2, the scallops were the favourites, being both very hot but so well marinated with so many flavours, it was hard to identify.
Next followed a Rasam made with Pink Pepper and unusually Lemongrass. Rasam is a South Indian lentil soup and this one transcended any other rasams that I have had elsewhere. Certainly did its job in kick starting the appetite.
Next was a meltingly soft lamb with green chillies on little rotis and it’s really handy to be so near the kitchen as we duly had second helpings. This was accompanied by crispy chicken strips with guntur chillies and tasted strangely familiar, then it hit me as it was reminiscent of the friend chicken that we get from Nasi Padang shops in Malaysia, which of course has origins in Southern India. So far, all the dishes had been expertly spiced and well balanced which to me means no jarring flavours that overwhelms each dish.
Drama followed with smoking bowls of tamarind, jaggery and chilli sorbet which caught the attention of some New York Foodies on the neighbouring table. In addition to them, we spotted “Desperate Housewives‘ Neal McDonough sitting in the corner. This place seems to be on the Hollywood radar as they have had quite a few big names eating there.
Chef Oberoi sat with us which gave us a chance to grill him about the ingredients, especially the use of all the different chillies and how his food takes influence from different regions of India. Most shocking in our conversation was when he said that he was in the hotel in Bombay when it was attacked by the terrorists and saw one of his chefs shot in front of him.
The chillies that were used in this meal included Ellchipur Sanman, Guntur Sanman, Hindpur, Jwala, Kanthari, Kashmiri Mirch, Mundu or Gundu Molzuka, Nalcheti, Warangal Chappatta, Naga Jolokia and birds eye.
Just as we were starting to get full, the main event arrived. An Achari Chicken Biryani made with stuffed red chilli and saffron flavoured rice, with Lal Mirch Ka Gosht, a lamb dish cooked in red chilli powder flavoured gravy and Murg Khatta Pyaz which is a chicken tikka with vinegar shallots. To call the lamb dish just a lamb curry is doing it a disservice, didn’t find out where this dish originates from but I want more. It was spiced but flavours are quite unusual and was a complete contrast to the other dishes being served. We were told that this was the size of the main courses normally which is quite an enormous portion.
Everyone needs to come and have this Achari Biriyani, a whole tasty meal all by itself and is my favourite dish as it ticks the box of being quite tangy from the Achari/ pickle flavours. The curries were accompanied by a Mirch Ka Slan from Hyderabad, a cucumber raita and crispy and freshly made plain, paratha and peri peri olive naan.
To end this feast, we had a trio of desserts – Narangi Malpua, Kala Jamun Brulee and Chenna payesh. Although beautifully presented, I didn’t really like all the flavours and especially not that stripe on top of the chocolate box, which was a shockingly unexpected smear of black pepper but the brulee was a winner though.
The service at the Bombay Brasserie throughout the meal was very attentive and I’d like to think that this is how they normally treat all their guests. Am glad to have been reintroduced to this fabulous restaurant and will be back for the weekend brunch soon. They offer a full on weekend brunch where you can sample most of these dishes for £22 and ordering from the ala carte menu could be considerably more.
In addition, Bombay Brasserie are holding some other themed events over the next few months
- New series of Flavour Masterclasses for consumers – November to March
- Flavours of Divali 5 November 2010
- Regional Taste Tour of Chillies Friday 21 January 2011
- Taste of the Royal Palaces of India Friday 18 March 2011
- Chilli Celebration Dinner season – 17-30 January 2011
If you want an Indian fine dining experience, you can’t go far wrong eating here, also keep your eyes open as you might even spot some A list celebs.
Slow Food Kitchen was a guest at Bombay Brasserie.