I love Indian food, but most Indian restaurants are a disappointment. Either they’re too casual, or the service stinks or the food sucks. If I’m going to an Indian buffet my standards are a bit lower (as they are with any buffet) – if you want a greater variety or quantity, you’re going to sacrifice a bit in quality and service.
When I entered Bombay Darbar, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the décor chic and tasteful, but the hostess and host seemed genuinely glad to see us. A far cry from the usually dreary surroundings and begrudging service.
The restaurant recently opened on Las Olas. Although I had no idea how recently, I happened to stop in during the third week the place was open. Normally I give a place a few months to work out the kinks so we almost turned and left, but what the hell, we found free parking right across the street and when does that happen on Las Olas?
We took it as a sign and decided to stay. We weren’t disappointed. If the folks running this place have everything this smooth after three weeks, I can’t imagine what it will be like in a few months. We weren’t the only ones anxious to check it out; the place was packed, with a healthy LGBT representation among the customers.
Bombay Darbar is not cheap, most of the entrees are in the $15-$20 range and are simply served with basmati rice, and a couple of slices of papadum with chutney to snack on before your meal. If you want naan with your meal, you’ll pay for it; $3-$5 a serving, but it’s well worth the few extra bucks, especially if the other bread options are as good as the onion kulcha we devoured.
We also started with a couple of appetizers. The vegetable samosa provided two perfectly cooked pastries stuffed with a potato and pea mixture. Dipping in the tamarind chutney sauce or the onion and tomato salsa-style chutney provides an exhilarating burst of spicy-sweet flavor. For a more herbaceous note try the mint chutney. We also ordered vegetable pakora (fritters). We were served the paneer (cheese) version by mistake, but they were so good, we didn’t care. There’s also an excellent wine and beer list. It has a nice variety and is well-priced. I sipped a New Zealand sauvignon blanc for $7.
I always have a hard time picking just one entrée option and my husband is a vegetarian who doesn’t like to share, so picking my main dish is always an issue. This time it was easy because there was a dish on the menu I hadn’t had before, which sounded delicious.
Lamb pasanda featured moist and tender boneless chunks of meat swimming in a creamy cashew-based sauce. As with all dishes at Bombay Darbur it is offered in a range from mild to hot or super hot. I like spicy food, but until I know what they consider super hot I went with medium-high spice level. For most people that would be plenty, but next time I’ll go up a step on the heat level. My husband got his favorite saag paneer, creamed spinach with Indian cheese studded throughout. He also went with medium-high heat. Both dishes were beautifully presented and provided enough for one as a hearty entrée, two lighter eaters or four to sample the dish.
There were some dessert options, but we were too full to do anything but look at the menu wistfully. As good as the food is, the service proved even better. Each dish was beautifully presented, the flow from one course to the next was flawless and the staff was constantly checking in to tend to our every need. It wasn’t a bargain, dinner for two with a tip was $80, but the best quality seldom comes cheaply. Bombay Darbar is open daily for dinner from 6 until 10 (an hour later on Friday and Saturday). A special all-inclusive multi-course lunch menu, priced between $12 and $15, is available from noon until 3 p.m. daily.
Most Indian restaurants offer table service at night and a buffet for lunch, and occasionally on weekends. It’s always better to check ahead as policies change as quickly as an Indian typhoon.
Great Indian Grill
2692 E. Atlantic, Pompano Beach
Nothing that great about it. It’s mediocre food and the service is haphazard at best.
11422 W. State Rd 84, Davie
If you find Indian food too spicy, this is the place to go. It is the blandest Indian food I’ve ever tasted.
Taste Buds of India
7881 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs
Table service is not very attentive or efficient, but the food is great.
5th Element Indian Grill
1325 S. Powerline, Pompano Beach
Table service is a step above others and the lunch buffet is popular. Extra points for mango soft serve!
3060 N. Andrews, Wilton Manors
Mediocre food and the most disinterested servers I’ve encountered in South Florida. If you need one, they tend to loiter near the bar.
1830 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale
Not much in the way of décor, it feels like the mall storefront it is, but the food is good and service is attentive.
1521 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale
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