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Category Archives: Cafe

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 13: Bloomington Sandwich Co.

Kira, smiling around a mouthful of potato salad at the Bloomington Sandwich Co.The Place: Bloomington Sandwich Company

Neither of us had been to or even heard of this place before. The last few places we had been to had been sandwich shops, so we were happy that the Bloomington Sandwich Co. had a slightly different variety of sandwiches.

The Time:
Wednesday, June 28, 2006, 1:00 PM

The Atmosphere:
There is a huge mural of Bloomington landmarks on the entrance hallway. We had been thinking of having something like this for Eat Bloomington, but with Erik and Kira eating it. For example: Erik and Kira taking a bite out of the Sample Gates, or something else that captures the essence of Bloomington. If you have any ideas, let us know.

Interior Bloomington Sandwich Co.Otherwise, the place was small, clean, and inviting. They had a few tables outside, but we ate inside.

The Food:
The Bloomington Sandwich Company specialized in their homemade Italian and corned beef, so Erik got the Italian and I got the corned. Their sandwiches are fairly big, so they now offer a half sandwich special which is includes your choice of coleslaw or potato salad, AND your choice of like 6 other options, chips and a drink or fries being some of them. You get all this for the price of a regular sandwich. It is still plenty of food, just more variety. We took them up on this special. The sandwiches were just ok. Erik thought his Italian beef was a little dry, but I liked it and my corned beef, as well. The sides were fairly typical, but the best part was that they brought us free samples of their new blackberry Italian ice. It was scrumptious.

Corned beef sandwich at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Oh, and while most of their sandwiches are meaty, they do have salads, vegetarian chili, and a decent looking veggie sandwich for those non-meat eaters out there.

The Service:
There was a man and a woman working there, both were very friendly, patient and helpful. They did forget about my fries, but were very apologetic and speedily remedied the problem.

We haven’t made it a habit of telling the places we go about our Eat Bloomington project, but when we asked them if we could take pictures, they were very interested in our project and we even gave them our website. It’s taken us awhile to get this review up (sorry! We’ve been on vacation), but hopefully they read this.

The Price:
Most full-sized sandwiches were $5-7. ($6-9 these days. -Erik, May 2014) The sandwiches are definitely not stingy in size, so getting either the full sandwich or the half sandwich combo with the sides and/or drink is definitely worth the price.

The Rest:
While writing this review, I have gotten very hungry and want to go back to Bloomington Sandwich Co. to try another one of their sandwiches. Maybe I’ll get the BBQ beef this time.

Edit: Erik is a dork and forgot it was Saturday, so it was already closed when we got there. Some other day…

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 2 months

 

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Erik Eats Sandwiches, in Bloomington, from a Company

Erik eating a pickle at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Our trip to the Bloomington Sandwich Company has taught us an important lesson: take pictures of the restaurant interior after eating. We came to this conclusion because we realized that if we take the pictures first, we usually have to explain why to the employees, and after we tell them that we review restaurants on a blog, it becomes difficult to determine whether they treat us well because they treat all their customers well or because they want to get a good review. I’ll try to be as honest as possible with this review even though I liked the folks at the BSC. The staff seemed excited about our project and we unfortunately gave them the website’s address while our review backlog already had three restaurants in it and right before we went on a two-week vacation, so almost an entire month has passed since we told them that we would review their little sandwich shop. If anyone from the shop ever gets around to reading this, sorry for the delay.

Kira, looking at a mural at the Bloomington Sandwich Co.The Company sits smack-dab in the middle of downtown Bloomington, squeezed in between an “adventure outfitter” and a cooking supply store with a very strong gay-pride theme. A large mural featuring Bloomington landmarks covers one wall, which I found odd because I hadn’t realized that Bloomington had any landmarks. In comparison to the other sandwich shops we’ve eaten at recently, they have quite reasonable prices and decently-sized sandwiches. (They’ve since moved to a new location, with completely different decor. -Erik, May 2014)

They advertise that they cook their own corned and Italian beef, which I usually consider a good sign. Unfortunately, the homemade beef had a dry, crumbly taste to it that put me off a bit. Italian beef sandwich at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Fortunately, I don’t have anything else bad to say about the place.

The staff treated us well, even giving us little cups of blackberry Italian ice for free. At first I thought they gave us the free treat in order to secure a better review, but I noticed that they had also offered the free samples to everyone else in the place. I think they’d recently added the Italian ice to the menu, and that they wanted to make sure everyone knew how good it tasted. And it did taste good. As did everything else I ate, other than the beef itself. The potato salad, the pickles, the cole slaw*, and even the toasted buns on which the beef sat all tasted quite good. (*Understand that when it comes to cole slaw, I only use the phrase “quite good” in the relative sense, as I don’t think any cole slaw has ever deserved to get called “quite good” in absolute.) The french fries didn’t astound, but they served their purpose.

Blackberry Italian ice from the Bloomington Sandwich Co.I’ve mentioned that the size of the sandwiches did not disappoint, but lest you think I’ve lost my marbles after looking at the pictures, keep in mind that we took advantage of a special deal where for the same price as the full sandwich (somewhere between $4.99 and $5.99 ($5.99 and $8.49 these days. -Erik, May 2014)), you get a half sandwich, a cup of either cole slaw or potato salad, and one of the following:

  • a fountain drink and a bag of chips (my choice)
  • an order of fries (Kira‘s choice)
  • a house side salad
  • a cup of soup
  • a cup of chili
  • a side of chips and salsa

So despite my misgivings about the homemade beef, I do like the place, and we’ll certainly go back. In fact, Kira has just informed me that she wishes to eat there today, just as soon as we finish these reviews.

Addendum:

If you think that I wouldn’t try to go to a restaurant that had closed for the day merely fifteen minutes after typing the restaurant’s hours into the info page, you’d be wrong.

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 2.5 (Huh?)

Update (May 4th, 2014):

Kira and I have eaten here many times since then, and we really like the place now, both for their friendliness and the good sandwiches.

 

 

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Bloomington Sandwich Company

Exterior Bloomington Sandwich Co(Update: The Bloomington Sandwich Company has moved to a new location, next to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. -Erik, May 2014)

A sandwich shop with free delivery within a quarter mile radius

Location:

118 E Kirkwood Ave (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 330-9611
(812) 330-9612 (fax)

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday: 11:30am – 3:30pm

Website: http://www.bloomingtonsandwich.com
Menu: http://www.bloomingtonsandwich.com/menu.pdf

(Info updated May 2014. -Erik)

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 2.5 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 2 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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Kira’s Number 12: Bloomington Bagel Company

Kira, deep in thought at Bloomington Bagel CompanyThe Place: Bloomington Bagel Company

I love bagels, and it seems like BBC has the monopoly on them here. There are 2 BBC locations in town, and I had eaten at the Morton St. location once before, so this time we went to the Dunn St. one.

The Time:
Friday, June 23, 2006, 1:00 PM

The Atmosphere:
Bloomington Bagel has that coffee shop appeal. You know, the one that makes you want to bring some friends or a book and just hang out for a while. The tables are covered in photos taken around the world of people holding bagels, there is art from local artists on the walls, and of course the wonderful smell of the bakery is in the air.Sign for the bathroom at Bloomington Bagel Company. Somebody has drawn colorful clothing on the usual bathroom stick figures. There are some tables out front, too, so that you can eat outside on a nice day. They have a kid’s corner with toys, and this sign for the bathroom amused me. It’s also nice to see the multiple recycle bins near the trashcans.

The Food:
I know that not liking lox makes me quite un-Jewish, but what can I do? I like gefilte fish, so that makes up for it, right? I wanted to get the Bagel Dog, but they were out at that moment, so I just ordered a bagel sandwich with some turkey, garlic/herb schmear (cream cheese, for those not in the know), and lettuce, all on a honey wheat toasted bagel. (And they did have an avocado, but it wasn’t ripe yet. Oh well.) The bagel had a very good crunchy to chewy ratio, and over all everything was tasty. Erik, of course, was very happy to get the lox and bagel, open faced, with garlic/herb schmear, tomato, and capers. Turkey sandwich at Bloomington Bagel Company, with garlic herb schmear and lettuce.He was very happy that they knew to put the capers between the cream cheese and the lox so that they didn’t fall off.

We happened to go on a Friday, so they had some challah bread (traditional egg bread that Jews eat primarily on the Sabbath). I got excited, because it’s had been awhile since I’d had good challah. I was quite disappointed. The challah wasn’t very egg-y, and the texture was off somehow. It also started going bad after 2 or 3 days. Oh well. Guess I’ll continue my search for good challah, although the challah at O’Malia’s isn’t too bad.

Kira isn't crazy about the challa at Bloomington Bagel CompanyAfter we enjoyed our sandwiches, we were already out the door when we realized that we forgot dessert! They have a good selection of brownies, cookies, and other baked goods. The lady behind the counter highly recommended the s’mores bar heated up, and I definitely have to pass along that recommendation. It has all the goodness of s’mores without the burnt marshmallow or falling apart graham crackers. Yum!

Service:
There were a few young ladies, probably college students, working behind the counter, and they were very friendly and helpful.

The Price:
Of course the lox and bagel was the most expensive sandwich at $7.30, while my make-your-own was $5.50. There are definitely cheaper things on the menu, too.

The table at Bloomington Bagel Company, with pictures of people with bagels.The Rest:
They were very friendly and the food was reasonably priced. I recently went back and got some bagels to go, and while the bagels still tasted good, almost all of them were misshapen, making bagel sandwich making a bit hard. But with not much other options, I will go to the BBC when I feel the need for some bagels.

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 3 weeks. (What’s this?)

 

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Erik Eats Bagels

Erik, enjoying his bagel at Bloomington Bagel CompanyHow to make a proper bagel with cream cheese and lox:

  1. Select a flavor of bagel and slice it in half. A plain bagel will do, but if you like a more complex flavor, you can choose any savory flavor. I like garlic, salt, or “everything” bagels for this type of sandwich. Avoid any sweet or berry-flavored variety.
  2. Toast it. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’ve met at least one person that claims to dislike like bagels because of their chewiness even though this person has never eaten a toasted bagel.
  3. Put cream cheese on both halves of the bagel. I won’t stop you from making an ordinary sandwich and simply substituting a bagel for bread, but a true bagel connoiseur makes an open-faced sandwich. If you get your sandwich from a restaurant and ask them to make it open-faced, they will generally honor your request, but you’ll probably get the same amount of schmear and toppings, only spread out onto the two halves. While this always disappoints me, I still maintain that the sandwich tastes better this way.
  4. Close-up of bagel with cream cheese and lox from Bloomington Bagel Company, with capers between the lox and cream cheese.

    Note the placement of the capers.

    Add capers. I cannot stress the importance of doing this step in the proper order. If you put the capers on after the lox or tomatoes, they will just roll off the bagel. Don’t overdo it, especially if you have chosen a salty bagel to begin with.

  5. Add lox. Your mouth may start to water at this point. Do not worry. In fact, if your mouth does not start to water at this point, you should either have your saliva glands checked, or you should eat something more to your taste (and less expensive), like maybe a rice cake.
  6. Add tomato slices.
  7. Eat.

The folks at Bloomington Bagel Company must follow a similar set of rules because they prepared my bagel almost perfectly. I started to worry when the lox went on before the capers, but our bagel-maker carefully lifted up the lox to apply the capers underneath. I tested for imperfections (due to the extra cost, I get very picky with my lox sandwiches), and I did notice a slight caper surplus, easily remedied by a quick caperectomy, but otherwise the sandwich scored perfectly.

Kira ordered a much simpler turkey sandwich, but I can’t fault her for her pedestrian tastes.

S'more bar at Bloomington Bagel CompanyThe BBC, not to be confused with The British Broadcasting Corporation, or our good friend Baby Bok Choi (otherwise known as Neeraj), makes a good bagel and a good bagel sandwich in a friendly manner for a reasonable price. I don’t ask for much more than that, though the s’more bar we ordered for dessert made for a pleasant after-dinner bonus. If you order one (and you should), have them heat it up first.

The decor at the Dunn Street location tends towards the eclectic side, with local art on the walls, refrigerator-magnet poetry on the coffee machines, and photos of people with bagels on the tables. The shelves of children’s toys in the corner make for a nice touch, and it makes me happy to see a restaurant with recycling bins by the trash cans.

Other than that, I have nothing more to say on the subject. Go eat a bagel.

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

 

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