Dining at Bombay Grill in the Idanha is much like I imagine lunching at a New York tea room to be like. Frosted glass sconces with blue, yellow and reddish-pink bulbs offer low lighting. Heavy burgundy vinyl table coverings, carnation pink linen napkins and framed intricate traditional-looking needlepoint pieces all work to complete the old-world feeling of the open, high-ceilinged dining area.
Bombay Grill's inexpensive, well-stocked lunch buffet ($8.95, available seven days a week) is de rigeur for first-timers and destination dining for those in the know. Buffet items change slightly from day to day, but the owners' son, who serves at Bombay, said the biggest change is on the weekends. "We have mainly vegetarian dishes then; it's more Indian," he said, smiling.
On a weekday, I filled a plate with basmati rice, a rich, savory saag paneer (homemade cheese and spinach), orange alu matar (curried potatoes and peas), a sweetish yellow navrathan korma (veggies, almonds and raisins in cream), chana masala (chickpeas in an herb-filled brown sauce) and a host of other saucy, aromatic dishes, including a huge shallow round chafing dish of mango chicken. The dishes were cool both in temperature and in spice. The food would have been better served if the chafing dish temps had been turned up, but my timid tongue hardly (and thankfully) tingled--except at the surprisingly spicy saag--as I mopped up sauces with buttered but slightly charred naan. I finished off with sweet, squishy gulabjaman (fried pastry of dry milk and honey in syrup) and a small cup of chai tea.
On a Sunday night, I was dipping crispy pieces of papadum in a spicy mint chutney and tamarind sauce and sipping from a cup of hot chai tea when my non-vegetarian thali ($19.95), which I ordered mild, arrived. A large round metal tray was filled with smaller metal ramekins of chicken tikka masala (tandoor-broiled chicken in a tomato, onion and cream sauce), chicken curry, chana masala, raita (cool, tangy yogurt and cucumber sauce), onion and tomato salad, and a side of basmati rice. Though it was listed on the menu, the thali was minus saag paneer, but plus a spicy tender lamb dish not listed as well as a leg of tandoori chicken, which sat in the center of the tray. As a rule, I do not like meat on-the-bone, especially chicken--especially chicken legs. But I was intrigued by a crust of spices and the enticing smell and tentatively tasted the bird. Unbelievable. The tandoor cooking sealed in the meat's juices and the exotic spices infused it with a smell as tantalizing as its taste. After a bite or two of each dish, I was full and the chicken leg was the only thing that didn't make it into my to-go box.
Due to the consistency of both quality and solicitous service, I've added Bombay Grill to my list of favorite and affordable restaurants and Indian to my list of favorite ethnic foods. A friend who is an Indian food aficionado confirmed its ranking. "Bombay Grill's food is good and cheap, like Indian food should be."
--Amy Atkins' paneer started to saag when she turned 40.Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Bombay Grill.