Bombay Grill

Special to The Idaho StatesmanFebruary 10, 2006 

— Boise got a new ethnic dining option in late October when Bombay Grill opened in the Idanha Building.

Yes, Peter Schott is no longer associated with the Idanha's dining room, which in recent years has held such names as Rodizio Grille and Borton's.

Bombay Grill owner Deepak Kumar, a 20-year-old who has managed restaurants in California since he was 15, did away with the excessively cluttered dining room (of the Schott era) and opted for a mellower pink motif.

Rails of shiny brass still remain from the past, but the fern plants are long gone.

Béarnaise-smothered steaks and shrimp cocktails have been replaced with assorted flatbreads, rice biryanis and tandoori barbecue dishes — the foodstuff of India.

The menu is all over the map, from the sunny beaches of Madras to the highlands of northern India, from where Kumar originally hails.

One evening, we escaped the frigid outside temperatures for a much warmer booth.

Right away we were greeted by a friendly young server and given a basket of pepper-flecked cracker bread — the thinner cousin to naan — served with ramekins of fiery cilantro-mint chutney and sweet tamarind sauce.

After ordering a Bombay Grill appetizer platter ($8.95), we received steaming cups of chai tea ($2.25).

In about 15 minutes, before we saw the appetizer, our server took the entrée order.

We chose lamb vindaloo ($12.95) and a vegetarian dish called alu Gobi masala ($9.95).

After another long wait, our server told us the kitchen was training a new tandoori chef so "orders were a little backed up."

No big deal.

We just sipped our chai tea and listened to the modern Punjab music that lingered overhead.

In a few minutes, out came all the food in one fell swoop, followed by a basket of grilled onion kulcha ($2.95).

We were eating family-style anyhow, so the plate pileup didn't bother us.

A large platter came stacked with tender pieces of chicken tikka (charred on the edges), spiced ground lamb kebobs, golden-brown veggie pakora nuggets and samosa pockets stuffed with peas and smashed potato. The platter was void of its promised mango chutney, though.

Vegetarians can find plenty to nosh on here, ranging from dhal-makhini (stewed lentils) to shahi paneer (fresh cheese with almonds and raisins) to our choice, alu Gobi masala, a vegan hodgepodge of crunchy potatoes and cauliflower mingled with tomato, garlic, ginger and cilantro.

The kulcha flatbread (a specialty of northern India) was warm and chewy, dotted with chopped onion and toasted fennel seeds.

We also enjoyed the lamb vindaloo, a Goan stew of slow-cooked lamb medallions and diced potato in a heady red curry sauce. Basmati rice and raita (herb-spiked yogurt) were there to cool things down.

We left full, and with clear noses.

Intrigued by the thought of an Indian buffet, we came back the following week for lunch.

$8.95 buys you unlimited trips through the buffet. We found items like curried chicken, tandoori chicken, lamb stew, mixed vegetables, saucy lentils, crunchy pakoras and grilled naan bread.

At the end of the buffet line sat bowls of raita and assorted chutneys for plate enhancement.

Unfortunately, some of the buffet's intended hot food was tepid, a problem the kitchen needs to address. And the plates were cold to the touch, causing the lukewarm food to cool even quicker once it hit the ceramic.

In a city not known for having many Indian restaurants (there are now three), Bombay Grill offers a lot of spice for a moderate price. Now the kinks just need to be worked out of the system.

James Patrick Kelly is The Idaho Statesman's restaurant critic. E-mail him at jpkfood@earthlink.net.

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