Bombay for me is a home away from home, I can’t put it into words, but something keeps pulling me back. I suspect (know) that food plays a large role in this and so when I heard of Bombay Bustle, I was pretty excited. A place that aims to pay homage to the great city and bring the much-loved dishes to London via a train carriage inspired dining room. Add to this the fact that the venture is being headed by the team behind Jamavar, my favourite fine dine Indian restaurant in London at the moment and what you have is one very excited person. The only issue was that I finished afternoon tea at 3:30pm and had my dinner booking at 5:30pm and so I wouldn’t be able to try everything I wanted to. None the less, I made my way over determined to try as much as possible.
The menu is split into small plates, tandoor dishes, rice dishes, curries and sides. A quick glance and familiar names appear in front of you. Whether it is the ragda or the missal pao, these are plates that are synonymous with Bombay. I however, opted for the traditionally south India dosa which is a small lentil pancake filled with a dried potato curry. I had heard so many good things about this with many people saying it was their favourite dosa in London and whilst it is not my favourite, it certainly was very good indeed. It is a real skill to make the outside layer crispy but the inside layer soft and the chefs here have nailed it. The aloo filling was full of flavour and it really is the perfect accompaniment to the dosa. A little bowl of piping hot sambar (vegetable and lentil soup) would have been the icing on the cake.
As I was happily tucking into this, a portion of bambaiya ragda made its way over to the table, compliments of the chef along some non-veg dishes which I won’t discuss here for obvious reasons. The ragda really was as good as the one you find at the side of the road in India and the honey yogurt bought a refreshing twist to the dish.
At this point I was on the verge of exploding but the ‘curries’ section of the menu had 3 words on it that I just couldn’t ignore. Paneer is basically loved by absolutely everyone and when it comes served in a butter masala sauce, it just has to be eaten. I ordered this alongside some naan and roti as well as a portion of the dabba dal. For me, any Indian restaurant should be able to cook daal properly, it is a staple dish and a great indicator of whether the restaurant in question knows what it is doing or not. Thankfully Bombay Bustle have nailed it. The daal is rich, creamy and packed full of flavour. It is not a mismatched combination of spices but it has layers to it and you can taste them all, topped off with a hint of butter right at the end. As you can see from reading the above, my resolution to eat healthy in the new year didn’t last all that long. Also, if you’re doing veganuary, I suggest waiting till February till you visit.
The paneer dish was good but the sauce perhaps a little too sweet. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it may not appeal to everyone. For me it needed a little more heat to get my taste buds tingling. I wanted to feel like I was back in India eating a paneer dish that was on the right side of the line of being too spicy. Again, this may be personal preference but it is what I relate to India. My only complaint is that the naan really wasn’t that enjoyable. It was thick and dry in the mouth rather than the soft fluffy pillow like naan I was expecting.
As our plates were cleared, the waiter asked if we would like to see the dessert menu. I was ridiculously full, to the point where I boldy claimed I would not be eating the whole of the next day. We all knew this was a lie but it felt like the right thing to say at the time. Somehow, my friend managed to convince me that the jalebi cheesecake dessert was a good idea. I went into it with very low expectations because I really think Indian restaurants struggle when it comes to desserts. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely try to alter a gulab jamboo to within an inch of its life, but it just does not work. This cheesecake however was a work of art. Ignore the little saffron jellies dotted around the plate and focus on the main event. It is layers of malai, blended with the flavours of jalebi. In an instant, the flavours transport me to a back street in Bombay eating jalebi which has just been fried. I could sit here all day singing praise for this dish but honestly just go and eat it. Hats off to the pastry chefs in this kitchen, you have well and truly nailed this.
As we were basically licking the plate clean, a rose falooda arrived, again compliments of the chef. It was everything you want from a falooda. Really super sweet with the punchy flavour of rose running through it.
Attention to detail is everywhere and evident soon as you walk in. The bar is small but well stocked and the creativity shows on the cocktail menu. The food is served in dishes that resemble tiffins. The interior isn’t a knock off of Dishoom, but a representation of the trains that play such an integral part in the life of a tiffin delivery man or woman (associating a job to a particular gender these days is a very dangerous game). The vibe is casual but smart enough to remind you that you’re on Maddox Street. The price tag on some of the dishes also remind you of this fact. All in all, I think this is a brilliant little place and I am genuinely excited to go back to try everything that I couldn’t try first time round. It goes without saying though that I will be eating another cheesecake.