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).