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Erik and Kira Eat Bombay Cafe

(Update: Bombay Cafe closed in August of 1014 and was eventually replaced by Amrit India. We have no idea if there is any connection between the old restaurant and the new one. -Erik, February 22nd, 2015)

Bombay Cafe. Thursday, May 22nd, 2014. Dinnertime.Kira at Bombay Cafe

Kira and I have been to Bombay Cafe a number of times, both at it’s old location and at its new one. Sometimes when a restaurant moves, it’s just a matter of location and decor. The new spot on the northeast corner of the Square* is more certainly more convenient and visible, and it allows for some outside seating too. The cafeteria-style interior of the old location has been replaced with something a bit more restauranty, with orange walls and plenty of wooden furnishings. If you look closely, you can still see the Quiznos trash cans and sneeze guards. But the move has brought other changes too.

*For those who are new to Bloomington, “the Square” refers to the area around the Monroe County Courthouse, between Kirkwood Avenue and 6th Street and between College Avenue and Walnut Street. It’s the center of the downtown area.

Left: naan. Upper left tray: goat curry. Upper right tray: coconut chicken. Lower left tray: daal.

Left: naan. Upper left tray: goat curry. Upper right tray: coconut chicken. Lower tray: rice and dal.

Some of my friends bemoan the loss of the freshly-prepared dishes of the old Bombay Cafe, but I don’t think anyone misses the long wait times for the food. As it stands now, all the dishes are prepared ahead of time, and you can pick and choose whatever combination of dishes you like. But the quality of those dishes is still outstanding, and I don’t think anyone would complain if it hadn’t once been otherwise. The particular dishes on offer vary from day to day, so if you want something in particular, make sure you check on their Facebook page first. But there’s always at least a few vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Upper right: daal. Lower left: chicken tika masala. Lower right: some kind of cheese dish.

Uppe: rice and dal. Lower left: chicken tika masala. Lower right: some kind of cheese dish.

Kira and I are both fond of the butter chicken, but on this particular trip, we wanted to try some different things. I had goat* curry and coconut chicken, while Kira tried the chicken tika masala and some kind of cheese dish whose name I can’t remember. The goat curry was a little too spicy for me, but not for Kira, although she wished it had more meat in it. The coconut chicken, chicken tika masala, and cheese dish were excellent. The naan is always tasty, if sometimes a little burnt around the edges. I’m not usually crazy about dal, but I like Bombay Cafe’s dal. The owner told us that they’d dropped the old family recipe in favor of a more complex flavor that has a few bits of veggies thrown into the usual mix of lentils. If you’re sensitive to spicy food like I am, I’d stick to the dishes that they tell you are “not spicy”. Some places I can handle “not very spicy” or “only a little spicy”, but Bombay Cafe is not one of those places. When in doubt, the staff will be happy to provide a taste of any of the dishes they have.

*My notes say “gort” curry. I’m not sure if this is my typo or if I was faithfully recording a mistake on the label. This review sat half-written in the queue for a long time, so my memory isn’t very fresh.

Erik, at Bombay CafeI do regret that I never got a chance to try some of the odder-sounding items on the menu at the old location. They’ve still got a sign that advertises “innovative Indian food”, but most of the dishes they offer now aren’t exactly what I’d call “innovative.” Although it is one of the few places in town that regularly serves goat meat. (Although to be honest, when it comes to curry, I can’t really tell much of a difference between the various different kinds of red meat.)

If the owner is there (and he almost always is), he’ll also be happy to talk your ear off about the food (or about anything else too). He’ll tell you if a dish is traditional everyday Indian food, or if it’s really only eaten on special occasions. If you ask, he’ll talk about the trials and tribulations of running a restaurant, from why he decided not to dump his Quiznos franchise for his own restaurant to why he doesn’t have a cash register. Fortunately, he always maintains an air of friendliness and helpfulness, so I enjoy engaging him in conversation whenever I’m there.

The “combos” come with naan, rice, dal, and two dishes. The regular size is usually enough for me or Kira, and will cost you eight dollars. If you opt for the large combo, it will cost you somewhere between twelve and fourteen dollars, depending on whether you get vegetable, chicken, or other meat dishes Even though you’ll order your food at the counter, they’ll ask you to pay when your’e done eating. It’s really easy to forget, and I’ve almost walked out the door without paying on more than one occasion.

Making a crêpe at Bombay Cafe

Erik eating a crêpe at Bombay CafeProbably the best new addition is the shawarma and crêpe stand that appears outside the Cafe on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. We’ve never had the shawarma, but when we visited, I insisted on trying a banana-Nutella crêpe. It was fun to watch the crêpe-maker at work, and he graciously allowed me to take lots of pictures while he worked. And of course it was very tasty.

So here’s the short version: Consistent quality Indian food at a good price; not as freshly prepared as it was at the old location. Don’t forget to pay on your way out. Also: crêpes!

 

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Bombay Cafe (closed)

Exterior of Bombay Cafe, with crêpe stand out front (Update: According to their Facebook page, Bombay Cafe closed for a week in August, 2014, but has not been open since (6 weeks later), and is not responding to questions on FB. If closed, this would become the millionth restaurant that has closed after we reviewed it. Ok, maybe just the 7th, but that seems like a lot. Either way, we will miss it if it truly is gone. -Kira, September 17th, 2014)

(Update: Bombay Cafe never reopened and was eventually replaced by Amrit India. We have no idea if there is any connection between the old restaurant and the new one. -Erik, February 22nd, 2015)

Bombay Cafe is has closed, becoming the millionth restaurant that has done so after we reviewed it. Ok, maybe just the 7th. But that seems like a lot. Either way, we will miss it.

An Indian restaurant/café featuring “innovative Indian food”

Location:
124 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 200-9999

Hours:
Closed

Website: http://www.bombaycafe.net (their Facebook page is more up-to-date)
Menu:
 changes daily (see their Facebook page for today’s menu)

Prices:
$8 – $15

Review Summary:
Consistent quality Indian food at a good price; not as freshly prepared as it was at the old location. Don’t forget to pay on your way out. Also: crêpes!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Asian, Cafe, Closed, Indian, Info Pages

 

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Kira’s Number 16: Bombay House

Kira at Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

The Place: Bombay House

I have never been much of a fan of Indian food. I will eat it, but have never really enjoyed it. Erik had been to Bombay House before for both the lunch buffet and for dinner, but I had just been there for dinner. This time we went for the buffet.

The Time:
Monday, August 07, 2006, 12:30pm

Erik's plate at Bombay House

Erik’s plate: navratan kourma, aloo beans, garlic naan, chicken vindaloo, rice, and dal makhani

The Atmosphere:
The place has a little bit of an upscale feel to it, but is still cozy. There are 2 different rooms to sit in, but there was a large group in one of the rooms, and even though we happened to know 1 of the people in the large group, we sat in the other, smaller room. The room fits about 15 people, but does not feel cramped.

The Food:
There was a wide selection in the buffet, from Tandoori Chicken, to Chicken Vindaloo, Aloo Beans, and Dal Makani. There was plenty for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Of course there was the traditional bread, naan, but there was also the garlic naan, which was quite good. I couldn’t really get into the main dishes. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t to my taste. Once again, I think that I am just not a big fan of certain Indian foods. The one thing that I did notice was that the Tandoori chicken was not as dry as I’ve had it other places.

Tapioca pudding at Bombay HouseThere was a selection of rice, and also some mediocre rice pudding and fruit in sweet cream for dessert. And don’t forget the weird little mint things that are in a bowl in the hallway on the way out. I don’t particularly like them, but they amuse me for some reason.

It wasn’t a bad experience, I just think that I would have preferred a different selection.

The Service:
For the buffet, there really isn’t much service. They seat you and get you drinks. A few things in the buffet line were almost out when we got our first plate of food, but most things had been refilled by our second serving.

When we went for dinner, I had nothing to complain about the service.

Weird little mint things at Bombay HouseThe Price:
I don’t quite remember, but I think it was around $8-9 for the lunch buffet, which seemed a little over-priced, but not outrageous. It could be worth it if you came really hungry. The entrees for dinner are between $10-14. Again, a little high, but you generally get a lot of food.

The Rest:
Bombay House is a perfectly good Indian restaurant, I just happen to not like Indian food very much. Maybe I’ll go back and try again someday.

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 7 months, not because the quality was bad, but because I don’t care for Indian food very much.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2007 in Asian, Buffet, Closed, Indian, Sit-down

 

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Erik Eats Bombay…finally

Erik, about to stuff his mouth at Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

Right, so it’s been a while since we last updated, and the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. Things got busy for a while. Not in the terribly busy way that makes respected professionals miss important deadlines, just the normal business that all bloggers either deal with or succumb to. I succame. Then I blew an important exam, and everything went up into the air. We didn’t know if we’d even be around Bloomington long enough to finish the alphabet, and somehow that turned my subconscious’s vision of this one stupid review into a monstrous ordeal, Sisyphean in both difficulty and futility. I still don’t know if we’ll be around long enough to finish the alphabet, but I think I’ve banished the blogger demons of procrastination long enough to spit out at least one backlogged review. (There really are only two, so if they stink, you can just wait until we’re back on our feet with Burger King).

The lunch buffet at Bombay House.

Left to right, top to bottom: tandoori chicken, aloo beans, chicken vindaloo, and navratan kourma

If you notice a difference in style during this review, it’s because I wrote most of the previous reviews without using any form of the word “be” as a literary exercise and a personal challenge. I left it in a few places for humorous effect, due to a literal quotation, or by accident, but I think I was pretty good about it. I’ve lifted the restraint now primarily to make it easier to spit out the dreaded Bombay House review, but also because you can only be arbitrary for so long. Hopefully I’ve learned something from it. I wonder if anyone noticed? (I just read through almost all of the reviews while fixing up the blog for the relaunch, and not only had I forgotten that I was doing this, but I didn’t notice until I read this sentence just now. I guess this means I succeeded? -Erik, May 2014)

More of the lunch buffet at Bombay House

Left to right, top to bottom: bell pepper and onion pakora, naan, dal makhani, and garlic naan

So to review the Indian restaurant Bombay House. It’s been a good 7 months since the visit that appears in the pictures, but I eat there all the time, usually for the lunch buffet. Kira and I have eaten dinner there once or twice, but the lunch buffet is where Bombay House really shines.

It’s not that dinner there isn’t worth your while. On the contrary, it’s the best Indian food I’ve had in the area. The atmosphere is sufficient to make you feel like you’re treating yourself (and your dining companion(s)), but the price isn’t utterly ridiculous. I recommend ordering something other than the tandoori chicken for dinner because while it doesn’t taste bad, it’s a little dry to make an entire meal out of it.

The first time I ate at the very reasonably priced lunch buffet, I was a little set back. The cloth napkins, solid flatware, and overall nice-restauranty feel of the place seemed a little at odds with the fact that I was eating at a relatively cheap lunch buffet. As soon as I tried the food, however, I got over it. For lunch buffet food, it really is quite excellent. Heck, the food quality is above average for a full-price dinner. There’s a good variety of food there, with about a dozen savory dishes and half as many desserts. The menu doesn’t change much from day to day, but it doesn’t have to because just about everything is tasty.

I’m somewhat of an adventurous eater,Dal Makani in that I’ll try just about anything non-toxic at least once, and often repeatedly over the years just to be sure my tastes haven’t changed. I’m not quite sure why this is the case as I usually don’t like the new things that I try. I keep hoping that I’ll like fried jellyfish, soup made with beef tripe, or jalapeño jelly, but I usually don’t. I never have this problem at Bombay House. Most of the food isn’t too strange, almost all of it is tasty, and nothing is ever spicy enough to make me wish I hadn’t put it on my plate. If you’re generally queasy about trying new things, you don’t have to worry too much here, even if you have no idea what “dal makani” is, nor which item on the buffet it refers to. (It’s like ordinary dal (a kind of lentil soup, essentially), only it’s made with black lentils and kidney beans instead of red lentils. -Erik, 2014)

My final thoughts on Bombay House: good for dinner, great for lunch.

See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 4, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 4.5, Wow – 3 (Huh?)

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2007 in Asian, Buffet, Closed, Indian, Sit-down

 

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Bombay House

Exterior Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

An Indian food restaurant with a lunch buffet

Location:
416 E 4th St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 4, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 4.5, Wow – 3 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 7 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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So long, American Chopstick

We were informed (awhile ago) by our loyal friend and reader, Neeraj, that the very first restaurant in our phonebook has gone the way of Austin Riley’s Pizza. American Chopstick wasn’t a high quality restaurant, but it was always entertaining. We don’t know why it closed, but are saddened that we didn’t get to say goodbye. I drive by there frequently and even though the sign is still up, it is eerily empty.

So long, American Chopstick. You will be missed.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2006 in Closed, Miscellaneous

 

Erik Eats Bobby Too

Erik at Bobby's Too(Update: Bobby’s and Bobby’s Too have since closed down. But the owner (Bobby) bought the old Colorado Steakhouse, which is now Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse. It’s not the same as Bobby’s, but it’s good! -Erik, May 2014)

The name “Bobby’s Too” clearly indicated that another restaurant, probably named “Bobby’s” exists somewhere else in the vicinity. This seemed odd to me as our phone book’s restaurant section only listed the sequel. Further examination revealed an entry in the “taverns” section for Bobby’s Pub and Grill. After eating at the Too and asking our waitress, we finally determined that indeed Bobby’s Pub and Grill comes from the same “Bobby,” and that the restaurant we ate at only “also” belongs to Bobby. She also informed us that both locations serve the same food and have the same special deals, the only difference being that the pub has a larger bar and a smaller dining room. Well, that and the location. While the main location lies in downtown Bloomington on Kirkwood avenue amongst the other pubs and grills, the Too sits hidden in a large complex of offices.

The Too’s interior has a few booths next to the bar and a game room with a large screen television, some pool tables, a pinball machine, and more dining tables. It also has an “exterior” (not outdoors) dining area inside the office complex, overlooked by several office suites. I feel very sorry for anyone in those offices with a Bobby’s-facing window. If it seems like a long way to lunchtime at your job, just imagine if you had to watch people eating and drinking right outside your window all day long. Brilliant move by Bobby, though. You’d have to have gone completely bonkers to not rush in there as soon as you got a fifteen minute break.

I took some pictures of the game room, and the small group of people partying in there gave me some very dirty looks. Normally people seem to just go on with their business and don’t pay much attention to me taking pictures of the room, but this time they seemed so put-off, that I decided to blur out their faces before uploading the pictures.

Erik very carefully dipping a wing in ranch dressing at Bobby's TooThankfully, Bobby’s not just a clever marketer. He also serves tasty food and offers even tastier special deals. My personal favorite: ten-cent chicken wings every Friday. You don’t even have to show up during happy hour to get the deal. Unfortunately, Bobby’s chicken wings come from either very tiny hens or some breed of chicken that gave up on flying so long ago that its wing span has decreased to that of a hummingbird. But even at half the meat that other places serve, the ten-cent price still makes for a better deal than anywhere else in town. They taste good too. I don’t go for spicy food (I like my taste buds and feel no need to abuse them), so I can’t vouch for the hot flavor, but the hot barbecue sauce (which tastes like a mild/medium buffalo sauce to me) did the job. The straight-up barbecue sauce tasted like it didn’t even exist, so next time, I’ll stick to the hot barbecue.

Tortilla chips and salsa at Bobby's TooAlso on Fridays, they serve free tortilla chips and salsa. Now when I say “tortilla chips,” I don’t mean the crunchy triangles you get at Mexican restaurants which have undergone such an incredible transformation that it becomes hard to believe they ever bore any resemblance to tortillas. I mean slices of very thick tortillas that have been deep fried just enough to become flaky and slightly crispy. I didn’t care too much for the salsa that came with the chips, but the chips tasted fantastically unlike any tortilla chips I’ve ever eaten before. I highly recommend them. Did I mention that if you go on Friday, you wouldn’t have to pay for them?

Kira ordered a burger, and I had a few bites of it. Not good enough to make me eat less chips and wings, but not bad either.

I’ve witnessed confusion about which person had the responsibility for serving my table before, but usually when that happens, I end up sitting around for an hour while everyone ignores me. Thankfully, on this occasion, we simply ended up giving our order to several different people and receiving twice as many drinks as we’d ordered. The employees, on the verge of quitting time, fell into the happy, friendly, get-you-whatever-you-want category and not into the grumpy, impatient, senioritis-laden group. I appreciate that.

Erik playing pinball at Bobby's TooThey even left me enough time to check out the pinball machine. I usually have fun playing the “Elvira” pinball game, but this machine badly needed maintenance. Some parting words to bar-, convenience-store-, and pizza-parlor-owners everywhere: Pinball machines will indeed keep your customers around longer, but only if you keep them well-maintained. And you’ll have to have them checked out far more frequently than any other type of video game. Pinball machines went to fifty-cents a game long before the video games did, and not by coincidence.

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 4.5, Ooh – 4, Ah – 3, Wow – 4  (Huh?)

 

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