When it opened in 1982 the Bombay Brasserie was the first restaurant in London to elevate Indian food beyond the high street lager and vindaloo cliché that prevailed at the time. With its airy dining room and conservatory and more sophisticated dishes it was a world away from the flock wallpaper that was then de rigeur in many local Indian restaurants. The old stager underwent a refurbishment in the middle of 2015, and now has a more modern dining room and an even smarter conservatory. Rather oddly, they tend to not use the conservatory except at busy times, yet that is much the more attractive of the two dining areas.The head chef here since 1991 has been Prahad Hegde, who trained at Taj hotelsin Mumbai and Goa.
The wine list featured labels such as Mencia Bierzo Cuatro Pasos 2010 at £36 for a bottle you can find in the high street for £6, Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2012 at £65 compared to a shop price of £18, and Louis Jadot Chassagne Montrachet 2012 at £121 compared to its current retail price of £38. Mark-ups are kinder at the top end of the list, with the sublime Salon 1997 champagne a relative bargain at £275 given that its current market value is £291.
Sev batata poori (£9) was enjoyable, five little pooris with tamarind chutney topped with sev, to be eaten in one mouthful. I still miss the dazzling version of this dish served at the late lamented Sabras, but these were certainly very pleasant (13/20). Less inspiring were tandoori scallops (£11) dusted with ground spices. The scallops themselves were cooked all right but lacked inherent sweetness and, much as I like bold flavours, the spicing was a touch strong and rather overwhelmed the flavour of the shellfish (12/20).
Chicken biryani (£17) was reasonable, the rice fluffy and the chicken largely avoiding dryness (13/20). Cauliflower florets (£9) cooked with tomatoes, onion and garlic were nicely spiced and retained their texture well (13/20). Yellow dhal was also fine, though for me the consistency could have been thicker (13/20). Naan bread (£3) was quite good, fairly soft and supple (13/20). Kulfi, made in the kitchen rather than bought-in, had lots of almond flavour and reasonable texture; perhaps it was a little “stretchy” compared to the ideal but the flavour was excellent (14/20).
Service was friendly though rather inattentive at times. At one point a group of three waiters were chatting to one another in the middle of the room. In scenes reminiscent of Michael Winner I waved at them with increasing vigour in trying to get another drink, and did this for a full minute while they talked away to each other oblivious. Eventually another waiter entered the dining room and noticed the crazed figure in the corner waving like a demented seal, and finally took my order for another beer. The bill came to £53 a head including three beers between two people. If you ordered a modest bottle of to share wine then a typical cost per head would be about £65, which is a fair bit of money if you compare it to some other London locations, though it is still cheaper than some Mayfair Indian restaurants.Book