Bombay Grill 

While Boise has its full share of ethnic restaurants to choose from, it's nice to see an Indian restaurant migrate downtown. And although I make no claims to know excellent Indian food from just plain good Indian cuisine, I have faith in my ability to know "bad" food when I tastes it, no matter what the type. After a few lunch buffets and a dinner at Bombay Grill, I would definitely categorize it in the "good to excellent" category.

So it was a little disheartening to see the restaurant empty as we walked in on a Wednesday night. Why aren't more people in here? Don't people know that an Indian food restaurant is downtown? Don't they know what they're missing?

I'll tell you what they're missing. They're missing an excellent meal, with flavors and spices not in your typical American kitchen (or grocery store for that matter). They're missing naan and paratha, breads baked by putting dough on the sides of a clay oven. Indian breads are crisp, chewy and perfect for sopping up leftover sauce off the plate. Diners are also missing saag, a creamy spinach dish served with paneer (a type of cheese), lamb, chicken, seafood or potatoes. In a variety of spiciness levels one can choose from, you have to forget what you thought about grandma's creamed spinach as a kid and at least try it. I personally can't get enough of the stuff.

Missing out on Bombay Grill also means missing some of the best prepared lamb in the valley. You'll get dozens of little bites of heaven at Bombay with tender chunks of lamb--still red inside--stewed into a variety of curries, skewered onto kabobs or barbecued in the tandoor. And if heaven has a heaven, it's where you'll find the lamb shahi korma, a cream sauce with mixed vegetables, almonds cashews and raisins. My mouth is watering just writing about it.

I think for the inexperienced Indian food diner, lunch would be the ideal time to go. At the lunch buffet you can try a little bit of this and that (don't forget the saag) and then go back for seconds. The waitstaff is top-notch and helpful in describing what, exactly, a "vindaloo" is.

In the evening, ordering a la carte is the way to go--or more specifically, I recommend overordering. Get way too much food, and get a variety of things, because if there's one thing that comes close to a good Indian meal, it's the leftovers of that same meal the next day.

--Bingo Barnes can say shahi korma three times fast while juggling samosas.

Bombay Grill, 928 Main St., 345-7888. Tue.-Sun.: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.; closed Monday

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