People who know Indian cooking well, realize that the flavor and quality vary greatly throughout the country. India has its share of specialty dishes by region. Southern India is geared towards lighter meals served with Sambar. China has had a large influence in some regions because of its trading routes, a specialty known as Indo-Chinese cooking. Northern India is where the bulk of the dishes offered at The Bombay Cricket Club are most influenced, though a smattering of Middle Eastern dishes is thrown into the mix.
First a warning: The Bombay Cricket Club has a bit of a reputation for being its own fascist country. This reputation is frequently deserved. Be prepared for long waits almost any night of the week. Make a reservation, but make sure everyone in your party is there on time. You won’t be seated until all have arrived. Since there is little room to wait, you have to stand in the doorway blocking everyone, which just pisses the owner off. This is not a good thing – make him wait too long and he’ll throw you out and give your table to somebody else. Get there late for a reservation? Good luck. Come on a busy night without a reservation and you’ll barely be acknowledged, just summarily turned away. Want food to go? You might get it if everyone is in a good mood and they aren’t too busy. Other nights you’ll just be waved out the door. One final note – this is not a good place to bring kids – they won’t have the patience – the kids or the staff.
All this being the case, the place is packed every night with happy diners. It is small, the tables are very close together, and the sound level is so high you almost have to shout. There must be a reason for these crowds, and all you have to do is get a table and sample the food to find out why. Fortunately they will allow you to order a drink while you wait.
If you are a first time customer, you will get special attention from your server. They will show you the specialties of the house and guide you through the menu. When you order you will also be asked how hot you want each dish. They use three different types of chilies to get the heat where you want it – habanero, Thai, and Indian. I like things pretty darn hot but usually get medium which is pretty spicy. I can’t even imagine what the hot must be like.
Start with the mango-rita, a smooth margarita with mango puree that goes down easy but packs a wallop! While you sip you’ll have plenty of time to browse the extensive menu and munch some of the flat bread, piping hot from the tandoor oven, such as the Garlic or Onion Naan.
The dishes are complexly spiced, offering layers of flavor. Some of the better entrees include:
Chicken Makhani – chicken and fresh puréed tomatoes with butter, peppers, ginger, garlic, and cream. Chicken Saag – Chicken sautéed with fresh spinach, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and bittersweet fenugreek leaves. Tandoor Chicken – marinated overnight, with yogurt, garlic, and spices, then cooked in the traditional clay oven and served with tomatoes and onions. Chicken Tikka Masala – Another chicken from the Tandoori oven, sautéed in olive oil, fresh ginger, garlic, saffron cream and a complex masala sauce made from cardamom, coriander, and mace among other spices.
Lamb is a big part of Indian cooking and it doesn’t disappoint here. Try the Lamb Shahi – lamb leg, slowly simmered, sautéed with fresh tomatoes, saffron, ginger, garlic, and olive oil, then garnished with almonds, raisins, and cilantro. There is also a large selection of vegetarian options.
If you can put up with the attitude upon entering, you’ll generally get very good service when you sit down. Overall, the food is generally fine, though not terribly authentic to what you’ll get in India.