Friday, March 16, 2012

Bombay Palace, Beverly Hills, Restaurant Review

A stunning design coupled with excellent made-to-order food makes this Beverly Hills veteran a must-visit.

9 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy

The stunning white exterior of Bombay Palace caught our eyes weeks before when we were in the neighborhood. So when it came time to celebrate our "exclusive" anniversary, Nick and I decided to find out if the inside was an pretty as the outside. (Now that we're married, we have no idea what anniversary(s) to celebrate. We have our first date anniversary, the date we became "exclusive," our wedding anniversary, not to mention the date we first spoke virtually on eHarmony. Oddly, I think the first date anniversary holds the most sentimental value to me, because it was so hopeful yet uncertain, with all opportunities open at the time.)

THE SETTING

When we arrived there was only one occupied table on a Sunday night, but the place seems built for parties. There are long, connected deep red banquettes.

The interior design is memorable and modern. The palette is whites with warm yellows and browns with open shadow boxes housing Indian-themed figurines. There's Indian music playing in the background, but no flashy TVs.

The service was terrific. The owner was actually our primary server, and she joked with us throughout our meal. "You didn't memorize the menu?" she joked when I had to re-open mine to tell her my order. "OK, we'll let you cheat."

THE FOOD

The menu is extensive. The breads page alone seemed to go on forever, plus there is a huge variety of meats and a whole page of vegetarian options. However, to my chagrin, there's no brown rice. "We're not American," the owner said with a laugh. "We only serve Basmati." Nick, of course thought this was hilarious and agreed with her. (Nick and I have an ongoing white rice v. brown rice debate. One point for him.)

We got a free batch of Papadum, then when we finished it before our meal was ready and got a free refill. The first batch was burnt and a little over-seasoned, but the second batch was better.

We ordered the Chicken Pakoras as an appetizer, and the server warned us the wait might be longer than we were used to because "everything is made fresh to order." It was worth the wait. Unlike typical pakoras that are ball-shaped, these were strips, which meant more chicken in every bite. It reminded Nick of the excellent Chicken 65 served at our wedding. We said yes when the server asked if we wanted Mango Chutney to go with it but didn't realize until we got the bill that it was $3.50 extra.

Poori is one of Nick's favorite foods, and it's not served at that many Indian restaurants. But with the long bread menu here, poori was excitedly included. It was so delightfully poofy when it was served. (It deflated a bit before I snapped this photo.) Supposedly, the poofier the poori, the hungrier is the person you're serving it too. According to that logic, we were starving.

A house specialty is the Chicken Keema. I highly recommend it. It's ground chicken with spices, and the spices tasted so fresh. I tried to make a version of chicken keema few weeks later at home to recreate this dish, but my version was just OK. I want to go back to Bombay Palace soon to get its version again. (Our "proposal anniversary," perhaps? ;) )

Though I lost the battle over the rice, Nick did agree for us to share a veggie dish. We got the Navratan Korma, which even liked. It was a great mix of veggies.

The smell of the Peas Palou (the rice dish we settled on) was intoxicating as I was snapping the photos. The hint of saffron was just amazing.

I got a Mango Lassi. There were also sweet and salty options. It was great and smooth, generous on the yogurt and with a refreshing mango flavor.

Nick ordered a Taj Mahal beer. The presentation was nice as an employee poured it into a glass for him. (Though maybe a little too nice as it was $12 for one beer.)

Not sure how we got a freebie, but the server brought us a complimentary Gulab Jamun. It was served warm. Yum.

The owner-server asked us how we found Bombay Palace. The honest truth is we were across the street at Nirvana the week before for a friend's birthday party and noticed it. But when I started telling her that we were at its nearest competitor, Nick's eyes started shooting me daggers. However, the owner-server realized what I was about to say and then said...drum roll, please...that Nirvana is her husband's restaurant. Apparently, a lease issue about 10 years ago caused them to open a new restaurant (Nirvana) across the street, but then they kept Bombay Palace's location after all, so now they compete with each other. I haven't eaten at Nirvana yet (though Nick bought a Bud Light for $11 there at that party; yes you are paying for the atmosphere and the location), but the atmosphere of Nirvana is totally different. It's more colorful and whimsical.

Street parking for both is free at the meters on Sundays, and I think it may have been free that Saturday night of the party too. The location is both good and bad. It's convenient and on a well-paved, luxurious Beverly Hills street, but I'm guessing that parking is bad on most nights.

Bombay Palace has been in this same location with the same chef for 27 years. I hope it stays here for at least 27 more. I highly recommend it.

Bombay Palace, 8690 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211. (310) 659-9944.

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3 comments:

  1. Great restaurant review!! I think it's so funny they have two restaurants across the street from each other. Either way they get the business. :) The food looked really yummy! :)

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