Ahh Bistro!

Bombay Bistro hits all the right notes

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Bombay Bistro, 47 High Street, Acton, London, W3 6ND
020 8992 5131



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John Lanchester, a Guardian restaurant reviewer, recently quoted figures showing that we Brits are European champions when it comes to eating take-aways, knocking the Germans and French into second and third place. He doesn’t offer a reason for our liking for letting someone else do the cooking but suggests that ‘when you can’t be arsed to cook, can’t be arsed to go out – there’s nothing that hits the spot like a good take away’. Add lousy weather to the equation and it’s a no-brainer.

Which is why it’s lucky for us that the Bombay Bistro, in Acton High Street, delivers to places in a three mile radius, taking in most of Chiswick. The Bombay Bistro is “proud to be different”, specialising in what it calls Modern Indian Gastromony. The chef, Bhuwan Batt has a 20 year track record which includes the Taj Group in Indian, the Origin Indian in Las Vegas and Tabla (sister to the Cinnamon Club) in Canary Wharf. In that time he developed his own culinary skills and cuisine, which he wanted to sell in his own restaurant. Happily one day he met Sarah Vickers who was looking to open a restaurant, and the Bombay Bistro was born.

We had onion bhaji and paneer chilli to start, with beetroot & cheese kofta (bet you’ve never come across that before) and a chicken dish for mains. We also got side dishes of aubergine and spinach curry, mushroom bhaji and chickpeas with paneer masala plus what turned out be a very garlicky garlic naan. Delivery was promised in half an hour, but arrived just twenty minutes later, accompanied by free poppadums, home made chutneys and an ice-cold bottle of Cobra beer.

In a word: it was ‘delicious’. Piping hot, freshly cooked and lots of it for sharing. In fact, we’d ordered enough to last to lunch and a snack next day. There were three bhajis rather than the usual the usual two, and they strolled through my onion bhajis (OB) test: my rule that if a restaurant get the OBs right, there’s a good chance that what follows will be good as well. It doesn’t always hold up as I’ve had some very good meals following greasy OBs and vice versa, but these excellent OBs were portents of good things to come. The other equally delicious starter consisted of two big slabs of spicy paneer with spicy stuffed peppers.

There was a bit of confusion in the ordering as I had an old menu and ordered by numbers! But it didn’t matter, as it was all new to us and what we got was similar to what we thought we ordered. I wanted achari paneer tikka but got the paneer chilli. The carnivore asked for chicken chettinad (chicken with dried red chilli and curry leaves) but thinks he got chicken makhani (chicken in a tomato sauce). We’ve got an up to date menu now so that won’t happen again.
The kofta were amazing, three big balls of spicy beetroot and cheese in a bright pink sauce of cream and beetroot juice. The chicken dish was declared excellent. The only down-side was that the accompanying (makhani?) sauce was too similar to the creamy kofta and chickpea with paneer. Happily there was no cream in the other side dishes so they made excellent accompaniments. We will be more careful with the mix in the future. The side dishes are particularly generous and one of these served with rice or a naan would make an ample lunch. If you’re counting calories or carbs, a paneer chilli with one of the side dishes would fit the bill nicely.

The take-away menu has a total of 16 starters: seven vegetarian. nine meat and fish. Some like vegetable samosa and chicken tandoori you will have heard of before, others like achari paneer tikka, dahi papri chaat and malai lamb chops may be completely new to you, as they were to me. And if you have difficulty choosing from such an array of deliciousness you can have an assorted platter - £8.95 for the veggies and £10.95 for non-veggies. There are 11 main course choices for the meat and fish eaters, including such exotics as coastal fish curry, Goan lamb and coconut scallops, and four for vegetarians, with all side dishes vegetarian. Traditionalists needn’t worry – they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. There’s also a section of vindaloo, madras, chicken tikka masala and other golden oldies.

The take-away menu isn’t as long as the bistro’s eat-in offering, and if the website is anything to go by it’s beautifully presented. This includes a much wider choice of desserts too, as beetroot halwa and gulab jaman are the only ones for take-away. Eat-in menu also offers banoffee pie, cheese cake, kulfi and some posh ice creams. If you aren’t close enough to walk there, the E3 bus takes you all the way.

Our bill came to a very reasonable £33, and if you’re not greedy as we were you can eat for a lot less.

Penny Flood

August 30, 2011