Bombay Brasserie is a leading contender for London’s finest Indian restaurant
There are many contestants for London’s best Indian restaurant prize, but I can assure you that Bombay Brasserie is ten leaps ahead of the rest. Which, in a city full of good Indian restaurants, is an astounding achievement, and one worthy of some proselytizing from any aficionado of Indian cuisine.
Founded in 1982, The Bombay Brasserie was responsible for starting a revolution in Indian dining in London, successfully debunking the vindaloo and horrendous flock-wallpaper cliché that prevailed at the time.
Instead, the Bombay Brasserie offered its guests an altogether more sophisticated experience, complete with lavish décor and a refined interpretation of Indian cooking.
Today, of course, London is full of sophisticated Indian restaurants – including a few Michelin-starred venues – and a cornucopia of good value eateries in Shoreditch’s Brick Lane. Yet, the Bombay Brasserie still manages to stand out from the crowd due to its sublime, authentic cuisine and plush surroundings.
A mere one-minute walk away from Gloucester Road tube station, the setting alone is worth the price of admission: the restaurant underwent a massive refurbishment in the middle of 2015, and now boasts a gorgeously adorned modern dining room with chandeliers, leather booths and modern art in generous abundance.
“Bombay Brasserie manages to stand out from the crowd due to its sublime, authentic cuisine”
We start our Bombay Brasserie adventure, however, in the Bombay Bar, a lovely colonial style cocktail bar fit for a Raj. Also recently refurbished, the bar cocoons you in luxury with its plush armchairs and walls adorned with artwork from India’s colonial past. The drink list is suitably grand, boasting a few imaginative spicy twists on classics like Manhattans and Margaritas.
A few cocktails later and we were ready to be let into the main dining room, an extremely serene space that felt like the welcome antithesis of a yob-filled, high street Indian restaurant. Sat under the impressive chandeliers, we marvelled at how beautiful the dining area was.
The comfortable chairs allow you to sit for hours with a gentle hum of conversation in the background. And pleasure is promoted by the generous amount of distance between tables, ensuring that you do not have to eavesdrop on your neighbours conversation. The service too was unfailingly professional, discreet and knowledgeable throughout, a notably defining feature of all the Taj group’s hotels and restaurants.
Gastronomic duties have been handled by chef Prahad Hegde since 1991, a stalwart of the Taj’s hotels in Mumbai and Goa. His cooking is imaginative, balanced and flavourful; his playful combinations update Indian classics with flair and pizazz.
Typical of his creative genius was the palak patta chaat, exquisite fried baby spinach, expertly coated with tangy yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney. Lemon sole steamed in a banana leaf with coriander, chilli and coconut was similarly excellent, as was my companion’s grilled scallops.
Main courses were no less delicious: chicken tikka makhani was a guilty indulgence, the butter-soft chicken breast served in a rich, moderately spiced and utterly moreish sauce.
The rakish lamb chops, however, were so perfect that we ordered a second helping. Tender flavoured-packed chops, generously coated in ginger-based spicing, were gone in less than a minute. We would have ordered a third helping, were it not for the delicious accompaniments – fluffy pilau rice and sweet naan breads – plus a modicum of guilt.
The exceptional cocktail and wine list must not be omitted from this review – the Bombay Brasserie boasts a diverse and eclectic list, with Bordeaux 1st Growths sharing space with more affordable options, including the exceptional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc we enjoyed from Greywacke.
Of course, all of this pleasure does not come without expense, and for a non-London readership, it would be only fair to point out that the city is full of more affordable Indian restaurants, with decent food and polite (if not exactly gracious) service. But at the Bombay Brasserie, ladies and gentlemen, you will dine like kings.
Courtfield Rd, London SW7 4QH
020 7370 4040
James Lawrence @jameswinelover