Nestled down a surprisingly serene side street just a stone’s throw from the bustlingly frenetic Edgeware Road, is an oasis of Indian delights.
Bombay Palace is, from both the name and the exterior, fairly unassuming. One would be forgiven for thinking it was just another of London’s seemingly endless supply of central Indian restaurants, which all serve up predictable, albeit very good, crowd pleasers like Vindaloo, korma and other sundry.
Well, the Bombay Palace’s unobtrusive façade is just that…a façade! For inside, guests are treated to some of the most eccentric, ambitious and adventurous Indian food this side of Priyanka Chopra’s Instagram account.
The vibe inside, whilst affluent, is casually upmarket rather than stuffily posh. It has almost a local feel, frequented by families, trendy young couples and the occasional tourist who’s clearly done their gastronomical research. The décor’s simple and understated – not a single jewel-encrusted elephant in sight!
We’d hardly sat down when a breathtakingly colourful and flagrantly fragrant starter platter was presented to us with justifiedly proud flourish – a streetfood/nouveau cuisine fusion, made up of uniquely delicious takes on classics like bhajis, samosas, and paneer, with gorgeous fresh fruit on the side.
The highlight though was the Gol Guppe. A popular street food in India, it’s a sort of small hollow fried crisp bowl, filled with a flavourful selection of chutneys and sauces. Our rhapsodic waiter decided to add a shot of vodka to the mix, as is (apparently) customary. The effect was unforgettable. A mind-bending mélange of tastes and textures which makes you need to take stock of your life and the universe for a good few seconds afterwards.
This was followed up by a sumptuous selection of mains; Karahi Gosht, which was a mouthwateringly tender lamb dish cooked with dry masala, ginger and green chillis; Chicken Tariwala, a popular selection and a good strong representation of authentic North Indian cuisine; and what was possibly the highlight of the entire meal, the moreishly addictive chilli garlic chicken. It’s the sort of thing you could eat five plates of without even realizing. Absolutely gorgeous and absolutely faultless.
We finished up with predictably delectable lime and mango sorbets, the perfect palete-cleanser to end an evening of synapse-firingly unique tastes and scents.
The Bombay Palace, in a way, represents everyting good about London’s restaurant scene – it takes something everyday and well-known, and transforms it into something challenging, risky and utterly mind-blowing.
Bombay Palace is at 50 Connaught Street, Marble Arch, W2 2AA. For opening times, head to bombay-palace.co.uk
Words by Dylan Jones