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Revisiting an Old Favourite – Bombay Brasserie:
There are few meals I remember from twenty years or so ago. A trip to Bombay Brasserie, though, is one such event. For a start, it was the very first time I had ever eaten an Indian meal that didn`t involve chicken korma or tikka masala. And, in its time it was the height of sophistication, with ceiling fans, beautiful rattan chairs and old pictures showing the days of the Raj. We feasted on tandoori quail and thought ourselves very grand.
Places like Bombay Brasserie stay in my heart so I was genuinely thrilled to be invited back to see the newly refurbished restaurant. Out has gone the wicker seating, replaced with stylish banquettes and whatever magic has been worked, space seems larger, brighter and airier. There is a real wow factor when you push open the doors from the bar and walk into the main restaurant.
Maybe it`s my imagination but the menu seems simpler too, though there are plenty of tempting dishes to choose from. We picked a few dishes that we thought would offer us a reasonable range. But, Shailesh Pandya and the Operations Manager was keen for us to try some of chef Prahlad Hegde’s showcase dishes. Despite our feeble protestations we gave into temptation without much effort and ended up eating what felt like two entire meals.
Starting with scallops and soft shell crab.
The ambi soft shelled crab was beautiful, plump and meaty with a spiced, slightly crunchy yet easy to eat shell. It was served with mango and ginger adding a light spice to the dish.
I was only allowed a tiny mouthful of the beautiful Khanda Masala scallops, but what I tasted was perfectly cooked.
More dishes started to arrive. I loved malia broccoli and baby corn, topped with a delicate, silky smooth cheese sauce.
Palak patta chaat, crispy baked spinach topped with pomegranate, tamarind chutney and yoghurt was tempting and morish.
Next up, a beautiful, golden masala spiced seabass. Utterly delicious, I will be ordering this and keeping it entirely for myself next time I go to Bombay Brasserie. I was told that it was slow cooked. Moist and flaky fish with a delicious spice on a bed of spinach and mushrooms.
By now the table was full of delicious dishes, including bindi amchuri, a fresh bowl of ladies fingers with a light tomato and spice dressing. There were super spicy crisp baby potato roasts and a wonderful dal makhani (black lentils with tomato butter and cream) that I kept dipping into, though I know I shouldn`t have done.
Of the mains, Prawn Hara pyaz ka (black tiger prawns, spring onions, scallions, tomatoes spices) were visually stunning but a little charred for my companion`s taste.
The venison roast (onion tomato ginger, coconut slivers) was superb – a lighter dish than I`d anticipated with a dry sauce. The meat was tender and moist while the spicing worked very well to create a rich yet light and fresh dish.
By now we were ready to give up but were tempted to try half portions of two desserts. The almond Medjool date pudding with fennel cracked pepper sauce, rose ice-cream was a lovely sticky concoction while my favourite was the lighter mango fig kulfi falooda mango jelly, wild basil seeds, reduced milk and vermicelli.
Throughout the meal, we enjoyed an Indian wine – the Nandi Hill Grovers Karnataka, Cabernet Shiraz which was a good match for the spicier dishes without being too overwhelming for the lighter ones.
I was impressed by the refurbishment. Not only is the decor bright, contemporary, classy and comfortable, but the menu is updated. The tandoori quail I remember from my twenties haven’t been served for years. But, what I remember from my last visit was rich, classical Indian cuisine. Somehow Chef Prahlad Hegde has managed to update the dishes so that everything is just that little bit lighter, that little bit fresher and rather prettier on the plate without losing any depth of flavour. That’s an achievement. I suspect that both newcomers and regulars will appreciate the menu. It’s hard to improve when things are pretty good in the first place but I genuinely think he’s done so, without any loss of integrity.