Bombay Club

815 Connecticut Ave NW,, Washington DC, 20006, United States

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Bombay Club was set up by Ashok Bajaj in 1987, who had moved here after managing the Bombay Brasserie in London for four years for the Indian Taj Hotel group. Bombay Club is literally a few hundred yards from the White House, and judging by the number of people in expensive suits eating here when I went, it seems to have a loyal audience of lobbyists and politicians. Then room is quite formal and quite gloomily lit as so often in the USA, but there are also several tables outside, which I took advantage of given the sunny weather. Bombay Club was the first of what is now a small restaurant empire with ten properties of assorted cuisines, including the Indian restaurant Rasika

The menu is traditional North Indian. There is quite a substantial wine list, with detailed tasting notes on each bottle. Sample labels were Bodega El Esteco Malbec 2015 at $54 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for $19, Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza 2009 at $88 compared to its retail price of $32, and Guigal Hermitage Blanc 2012 at $150 for a wine that will set you back $42 in a shop. For those with the means, and there will be a fair few in this neck of the woods, Didier Dagenau Silex 2015 was $350 for a wine whose current market value is $139, and Opus One 2009 was $750 compared to its retail price of $442. 

Chicken tikka malai is a version of chicken tikka where the meat is marinated with a blend of spices and also cream cheese, achieving a softer texture than regular chicken tikka. The version here was fine, the meat tender and served with a mint chutney. Local laws mean that only a gas tandoor is allowed, so no wood-fired tandoor is in the kitchen here. The latter always adds a pleasing smoky flavour profile from the charcoal, but obviously that is not possible here due to the local regulations banning the burning of wood (13/20). 

Tandoori lamb chops were cooked medium and had quite good flavour, though again the limiting factor of the gas tandoor means that you do not get quite the same flavour as, for example, you get at Madhus at the Sheraton, which has a robata grill (13/20). I was impressed with bhindi dopiaza, cooked with tomato, pickled onion and ginger. Okra very easily becomes slimy if not carefully cooked, so I find it a good test of a restaurant. The version here was superb, light and having good flavour, the ginger coming through and entirely avoiding sogginess in the frying process (15/20). On the side, naan bread was quite good, being reasonably fluffy (13/20).

Kulfi is made in the kitchen from scratch and the fig and honey kulfi that I tried had pleasant flavour and good texture, served at the proper temperature (13/20). The bill came to $66 (£52) before tip for one person with just water to drink. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might come to around $90 (£70). Service was pleasant. This was an enjoyable meal with the bhindi a real highlight. It is rare to find decent Indian food in the US, so Washington DC is lucky to have restaurants like this and Rasika.

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