Review: Bombay Brazier

I have to give my friend Nancy (who recently did my makeup for our engagement pictures) credit for turning me on to Bombay Brazier.  She’d been bugging me for a couple of months to try it out– she just gushed about how good it was.  So Nancy, I finally went, and your gushing was totally accurate.  This is some really great Indian food.

Bombay Brazier is located in the old Jimmy D’s space in Montgomery.  The owners also have a location in Lexington, so though they’re newcomers to Cincinnati, they’re not newcomers to the restaurant world, they are newcomers to Cincinnati.   Bombay Brazier is a little on the fine-dining side in atmosphere (no doubt left over from its days as Jimmy D’s) with some kitschy touches– the candleholders on our table were giant diamond rings, hollowed out for tea candles– but it’s very different than the typical environment found in a Clifton Indian restaurant.  The staff is incredibly helpful– going so far as to steer you in the right direction if you’ve chosen a sauce that might go better with a different protein.  We also had a group of ten– which they handled very well.

The menu at Bombay Brazier looks like pretty typical Indian, though for entrees, you can choose a protein (chicken, lamb, beef, paneer, prawns) with a sauce, which was nice, particularly for those who might be vegetarians.  We started out with two pakora (in the same gnome shape as Ambar, which always tickles me), which were a little spicy but not too spicy, and well-matched by the (again, not-too-spicy) chutneys brought to the table.  I’m used to the onion chutney at other restaurants being very spicy, but neither the onion nor the cilantro chutneys packed more than mild heat.  This wasn’t a bad thing– Terry is still getting used to eating Indian food, so they were perfect for him– but I would have liked them to pack more of a punch.

We each ordered an entree, but also sampled some of the dishes that others at the table ordered as well (the advantage to both having a large group and eating dishes that are easily served family-style).  Terry got shrimp in a mango sauce, level 1 spicy.  It was sweet and a little spicy, and the shrimp were plump and tender.  It was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but Terry enjoyed his dish.

I ordered the lamb rogan josh.  I had originally ordered it with chicken– trying to cut down on the calories, you know– but the server insisted that lamb was a much better choice.  I ordered a level 4, and it was spicy enough, without being overwhelming.  The lamb was also tender (it’s common, I’ve found, to find lamb in many Indian restaurants to be tough), and the portion more than enough to share and still have leftovers the next day.

Others at the table got saag paneer (at a level 4, much spicier than the rogan josh), an absolutely excellent chicken makhani, which wasn’t as creamy as the Ambar/Baba restaurant makes it, and the chicken again, very tender.  I much prefer Bombay Brazier’s version to any other chicken makhani I’ve ever had, and sopped up every drop of the sauce on my plate with some naan.  My only criticism is that several of us ordered a 4– and that “4” seemed very different from dish to dish.  The 4 on the Makhani was barely spicy, whereas the 4 on the lamb rogan josh packed some heat, and the 4 on the saag paneer was much hotter than either.  I’d like to see a little bit more consistency in heat.

We also ordered garlic naan (suitably glistening with ghee, just the way I like it) and Bombay naan, which was filled with dried mango.  It was almost like dessert– sweet, but not cloyingly so– and after being stuffed with pakora, garlic naan, and the various entrees, a bite or two was the perfect finish to the meal.

Between Bombay Brazier and Ammas, I’m finding fewer and fewer reasons to visit my formerly favorite Indian restaurants in town.  Not only is the service great  and helpful (much better than the sometimes indifferent service you get at other Indian restaurants), but the food is excellent.  In addition to food, there’s quite a selection of beer, wine and spirits (including a full bar).  They can accommodate large parties and intimate dinners and the prices aren’t outrageous– $40 for the two of us; if we hadn’t shared with the rest of the table, we’d have easily gotten three meals out of what we ordered.

On the way out, the chef, in a black chef’s coat, pointed at me and said, “Look! You’re happy! That’s why you come here!”  And he’s right.  I left happy, full, and waiting for the next chance I have to come back (which, incidentally, will be tomorrow).

Bombay Brazier on Urbanspoon

  • Sara

    Actually, the location in Lexington closed. There’s still an Indian restaurant in the former West High St location of Bombay Brazier, but it’s got a new name (Bombay Grill) and new owners. This was also the story we got from our server on our first visit too, so I think they’ve focused all of their effort on the Cincinnati location now – which you can tell, since everyone seems to really love the food.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Thanks for the update!

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  • Sarah

    I feel the same way about discovering new Indian places in the area that have decreased to almost zero the times I frequent my old swear by favorite – Ambar. Dusmesh and Shaan have really stand out food and the service that I receive at both places is always EXCELLENT. and both have buffets where i’ve branched out to try new things.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      I need to try both of them. I’m currently so enamored with Ammas and Bombay that I’m blinded to the others. :)

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      I appreciate Ambar for exposing me to Indian food. Now, I have to realize that there’s better Indian out there. Not that Ambar isn’t good!

  • http://cincinnaticocktails.com Craig Hochscheid

    Sounds great Julie. I love lamb rogan josh it’s one of my favs (Mayura in Clifton had THE BEST EVER). I just wish that someone would open an Indian restaurant on the Westside. I keep thinking that Clifton can only support so many, they’ve got to be cannabalizing each other’s business at some point, yet they seem to keep getting more and more of them.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      At least you have Thai. I don’t know– Clifton isn’t TOO far from Western Hills. That’s the closest Indian to downtown (for dinner at least) as well.

      • Sara

        Akash is actually downtown and open for dinner. While I don’t choose to go there when all options are available, for a quick dinner before an event or handy takeout for those who live downtown, I’ve had a number of dishes there I’d consider quite good.

        • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

          Why is it that whenever I go past Akash it looks closed? Good to know. Never know when I’ll get an Indian craving.

  • Tim W

    Visited with a group of fellow curry aficionados at prime dining time and was very disappointed. The venue has the feel of an upscale steak house with dark decor and low lighting but it was totally deserted apart from our group so it felt cold and uninviting and the high ceiling made the place echo which rather stilted conversation.

    The curries were well cooked and nicely presented in very large portions but were not at all authentic. Many of our group have either travelled extensively in India and Pakistan or spent significant amounts of time there so we know curry well. All of our dishes were very mild and creamy due to use of a lot of coconut milk, coconut and cream. Even the Madras curry, which is supposed to be a tomato based sauce with a sharp hot flavor was mild and creamy like a Korma.

    With our party sharing appetizers, each having a curry and having a couple of lassis or a couple of glasses of wine our bill came to almost $50 each.

    If you are looking for a posh place to impress and are not bothered about the authenticity of the food then this would be a good place to go provided they could generate some atmosphere. If you are looking for a traditional Indian subcontinent food experience then you can do better at some of the less expensive places.