1315 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. (916) 441-7100

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of grabbing dinner and catching up with two girl friends. A bit of thought had to go into choosing where to meet up as it was a holiday (Veteran's Day, so some restaurants were closed) and we had one vegan amongst us. I had heard fairly good things about Bombay Bar and Grill next to Pieces Pizza on 21st Street; so in honor of Diwali, we decided to dine there.

The interior of Bombay Bar and Grill is quite impressive, you almost feel like you're inside a genie's bottle. The walls are done up in warm jewel tones and the windows are adorned with playful swags of fabric and fancy tassels. Upon entering, we were greeted with wafts of exotic spices coming from the kitchen then seated in a gold toned half-booth. I had heard that they had an extended happy hour that went from 2-7 pm, that was supposed to be a big draw; however, we were informed that the happy hour drink and food menu was reserved for the bar area. Really? The bar area looked totally dead, so we opted to retain our seats in the comfy dining room. We started out with a round of cocktails. Since everyone else was ordering specialty cocktails, I thought I'd give it a go and ordered a concoction called The Midtown Shuffle. Based on the description I was picturing a light refreshing drink but what I ended up getting was a glass of something that tasted akin to cherry NyQuil; this didn't turn out to be a big problem though, as after a few sips of the super strong beverage, I couldn't taste the drink anymore and had a nice buzz going.

We began our meal with the Himalayan Appetizer which was basically a pupu platter (a little of everything) of various fried Indian goodies. We received (4 of each) pakoras, naan strips, samosas and vegetable momos along with some chutney. It was one of the better sampler platters that I've had in town, for less than $10 you have enough bite-sized pieces to share for 3-4 people. It's easy to split up, everything is vegetarian and no one ends up feeling gypped. My only gripe was that the naan was a bit bland. For dinner, I decided to check out their chicken mushroom masala. You can either order this a la carte or upgrade to the traditional Indian Thali meal for $4 extra. The Thali meal is kind of their version of an "extra value meal"- it includes basmalti rice, raita, vegetable curry, dal and naan- all on a metal tray. (Raita is a type of mild yogurt dip and dal is similar to a lentil mash.)  My main dish was okay; boneless chicken cubes seasoned with garlic and sliced mushrooms mixed with a spicy, creamy sauce. The sauce had a nice layering of spices but it wasn't overly spicy (they ask you if you like it mild, medium or spicy when you place your order). If I could do my order over, I think I should have ordered my meal a la carte. I found my main course to be decent but the sides were pretty forgettable.

Service was a bit spotty. Our waitresses were polite but I found that every time they brought out drinks or dishes to our table they had to ask, "Whose is this?" I know I sound like I'm nit-picking but as an ex-waitress this drives me a bit batty when it occurs continuously through the meal and the conversation gets interrupted. A good waitress should have some sort of system in place so they (or the expediter) can place the food or drink in front of the correct diner without having to repeatedly interrupt. At one point the table next to us got the wrong check, they passed it over to us thinking it was ours (it wasn't) so we hailed down a nearby waitress and explained to her that the check must be someone else's. She flipped open the billfold and the first words out of her mouth were that the check didn't belong to her tables and then she acted as though she was doing us a favor by finding its rightful owner. I doubt my dining partners took much notice of this small exchange but I was slightly annoyed. Not to sound rude, but take the damn check and go deal with it...find the right table, go find the waitress it belongs to, whatever...I don't care, just don't tell me it's not your problem because it's certainly not mine.

My last impression of Bombay Bar and Grill was a favorable one though. Our waitress didn't seem to mind that we lingered a little longer than most diners post-dinner while we caught up on girltalk and as we exited, both our waitress and the front end hostess paused to call out friendly "thank you's" and "good night's." It was a nice way to close out our dinner. Overall though, I prefer the Indian meals I've had at Kathmandu Kitchen and Mati's (RIP). The meals there tend to be more flavorful, a bit bigger in portion size and less pricey. I did like the location and vibrant decor of Bombay Bar and Grill (love the deep fuchsia colored walls in the ladies room) but I don't think the food impressed me enough to make a return trip.
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