Sunday, October 17, 2010

Restaurant: Bombay Bistro Restaurant & Bar, Montclair

6 out of 10 Peppers = Medium 

If you can make it through the maze of confusion that is Bombay Bistro's customer service, then the cheese at the end is especially tasty. Seriously, the food is great, the service isn't, but all in all, a restaurant worth checking out if you're in the area.

The Details: Nick and I have both evolved the peculiar weekend habit of not realizing until about 3 p.m. that, oh wait, we forgot to eat lunch today. This is a both a blessing and a curse: we're either the only patrons in the restaurant, which means we're enjoying VIP service...or we're left peering into the windows of a closed restaurant and expressing shock that it deigns to close between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. because apparently most people are not eating one of the three major meals during this time. (What do they know?)

At Bombay Bistro, our foursome -- our friends Lisa and Warren came along -- approached the doors at 3 p.m. and saw the all-too-familiar Sign of Doom. "Hours: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., 5 p.m. - 10 p.m." ARGHHH: How dare they? I was still in the expressing shock and cursing stage when Warren casually pushed open the unlocked door. "Are you open?" he asked. I was both bewildered and delighted to hear that they indeed were.

We were, of course, the only customers in the restaurant (any other potential customers being turned away by the misleading sign, I presume), but the only VIP service we got here was Very Intermittent & Perplexing. First, we noticed that the buffet was still in place, so we asked if they'd still be refilling it. We never really got a yes or a no on that. So, instead we all opted to order off of the menu. A server takes our orders. But, a few minutes later, a different server asks for our orders. When we let him know that our order had ready been taken (and point out the server who took it) he told us that we still needed to place our orders with him.

Were we on candid camera?

Thankfully, one way or the other, our orders get communicated to the kitchen staff, and the food is brought to our table fairly quickly.

Nick, ever the samosa connoisseur, orders a Keema Samosa, which had a ground lamb and peas filling. He has quite happy with the samosa. (I could pretend that I took this open samosa photo to show you the filling, but in all honesty, I bit into it before remembering to take a photo. It was 3 p.m., people -- I was starving!)

We all shared an order of Naan ($1.95), which was enough for all four of us. We also shared a plate of Basmati Rice, which was included with our orders. Most of the menu can be ordered either a la carte (with rice only) or as a bistro platter (which is served with house salad or soup and a choice or rice or naan). We all ordered the a la carte option, so we were a bit confused when only one plate of rice came out -- but the server said he'd bring us more if we ran out.

For her main course, Lisa ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala. Referred to as a house special on the menu, it's a boneless chicken breast prepared in a tomato cream sauce. She liked it, but her one critique was she wished it had more vegetables. I give Lisa props for admitting this, as I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who ever wishes a dish had more vegetables. I always hear diners saying they wish the restaurant hadn't skimped on the meat, but honestly, I'll take an actual U.S. food pyramid-recommended portion of meat, with an extra helping of vegetables any day over a supersized meat portion.

Warren ordered the Chicken Jalfrezzi, which was described as boneless chicken cooked with jullienned peppers and seasonal vegetables. Warren enjoyed this dish and, as the only one of us who'd been to Bombay Bistro before, he said all of the dishes he'd had in the past had been delicious too. If you're into vegetables like Lisa and I are, this dish is a good bet as I could see lots of green swimming in the broth.

Nick ordered the Lamb Vindaloo, which was described as lamb and potatoes cooked in special herbs with a hint of lemon. He liked it, though I know he liked my sauce better (I got a tikka masala), because he kept tasting mine. In addition to chicken and lamb, the restaurant also offers shrimp and other fish as other protein options.

I got the Lamb Tikka Masala. Despite all of the confusion at this restaurant, I really liked my food. I thought the sauce was superb.

Have you been to Bombay Bistro? I'd be curious to know if this mixed service is typical or if they were having an off-day. Also, has anyone tried the buffet?

Bombay Bistro Restaurant & Bar*, 8851 Central Ave., Ste. E-F, Montclair 91763. (909) 445-1455.

*The to-go menu lists as its website, but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that it doesn't work.


  1. You are lucky they served you during closed hours. Bombay Bistro has had a history of serving great food, ask Snoop Dog and his crew, Jazzy B and Shinda who were regulars a few years back about the food. :-)

  2. I agree. If a restaurant let me in during their closed hours, I would feel so grateful to them instead of nitpicking on the servers that are probably sacrificing the only break of the day.

  3. Well said MR! I remember going to Bombay Bistro many years back. They were established with compassion and love for all. Always sacrificing to giving, and staff would always go out of their way to pass that on to the customers. Glad to know it's still being practiced.

  4. Food looks great! I haven't been to Montclair yet, but when I am in the area, I'll definitely check this place out!

  5. Thanks for all of your perspectives! Let me know if there are other restaurants in that area I should review. I'm not as familiar with San Bernadino County.

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