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Bombay Palace

50 Connaugt Street, London, England, W2 2AA, United Kingdom

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The Bombay Palace has been trading since 1984, but had a major refurbishment and opened its doors again in June 2012. It is part of an international chain of eight branches. The London branch is situated in a fairly quiet street not far off the Bayswater Road, and is a large establishment, able to seat 120 covers at one time. The head chef is Harjeet Singh, who has been at the Bombay Palace since 2000 after eight years in the sister breanch n Kuala Lumpur. before that he trained at Bukhara in Delhi for five years. The L-shaped dining room is quite smart, with purple upholstery.

Popadoms were not quite crisp; I am not sure if they were hanging around too long or if there was some other reason, but it should not be hard to get popadoms right. My first course was deep-fried okra, which had been heaped on the plate as if someone was setting a pile of twigs to make a fire. The first one I tasted was absurdly over-salty, but the rest were tolerable on the salt front, but this was a lazy dish (10/20). Ragra pattice was a little better, the potato cakes stuffed with cottage cheese reasonable, the chickpeas fairly tender (11/20).

Chicken tikka was pleasant, the chicken cooked through properly though rather oily (12/20). Tandoori prawns were cooked properly, a fraction overcooked but not badly so (11/20). Channa masala had chickpeas that had good texture and pleasant spicing (12/20) though an aloo gobi was less good, the vegetables having an odd, powdery texture in places (9/20). Romali roti was poor, heavy when it should be ultra-light (10/20); in contrast, naan bread was good, and indeed the best part of the meal (13/20).

The service was dazzlingly inept. When we arrived we gave our names for the reservation but the meet-and-greet person looked baffled; there were few other diners so it was not an issue. The manager who looked after our table was distinctly overbearing: when I asked about beer he just said “I’ll get you a pint of Cobra” and walked away; presumbaly it was tough if you had wanted a half pint or even some other beer. Our mineral water arrived in a bottle with no label, but we were assured it was Hildon.

It was a quiet Sunday evening with just a few other diners, but even the overly loud muzak playing could not distract from two of the managers having a blazing row with one another in the middle of the dining room (they seemed to patch things up later). When we finished our main courses the dishes sat there uncleared, while two distinctly under-employed waitresses chatted to each other a few yards away. No attempt was made to brush up crumbs at the end of the main courses, despite this restaurant clearly aiming at an up-market clientele, given its location and price point. The bill for this came to £112 for two, including £14.61 for the absolutely pathetic “service”. I do not count the service in my scoring system, so have given this 11/20 for the food (which was OK if wildly overpriced), but this was a thoroughly dispiriting experience and I would not return.

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