Dining at The Bombay Palace
For almost 22 years, Bombay Palace has been the city’s temple to traditional East Indian cuisine, earning a reputation as the oldest and most esteemed Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills. With a legion of loyal neighborhood and celebrity clientele, the Palace has hosted thousands of birthdays, anniversaries and event dinners since opening in 1985.
The tradition started when co/owner Mrs. Sethi sent birthday and aniversary cards to regular guests, inviting them on their special day to have complimentary champagne and dessert. Clients say they may forget their spouse’s birthday or anniversary, but the cards arrive in time to remind them.
From the moment of entry one can see the overwhelming classic décor, with lots of marble and huge plate glass dividers among sheer curtains. Seating is comfortable on cushioned curved banquettes, and the marvelous glass walls to Wilshire Blvd. allow one on the outside to see the spiffy white linen settings inside.
The Palace lives up to its name, beautifully touched with gilt and bronze, among a white-on-white gallery of walls illuminated with niches and coves displaying East Indian objects d’art. It's an overwhelming sight from floors to ceilings. Future plans for husband and wife restaurateurs, Deep and Harveen Sethi, include Ramon Mediavillo Designs of Beverly Hills to embellish the décor with a cooling fountain flowing from above. In addition, there will be hanging silk panels to separate the main dining room from the new Lounge where half-moon beds will be featured for sipping drinks with light appetizers.
Executive Chef Singh's kitchen has an authentic charcoal-burning Tandoor clay oven. His devotion to the art of traditional Indian cuisine using time-honored methods of hand-grinding spices has earned the Palace high marks from Zagat Guide.
On the night that I dined on Singh's signature items, the clay Tandoor prepared memorable fresh Naan, (bread) stuffed with tender chopped chicken and herbs; whole wheat Roti bread; Keema Naan with minced lamb, onion, garlic, and Kashmiri Naan with dried fruit and spices. There are other combinations, even spinach.
Originally, the chef helmed the kitchens of the Bombay Palace in Toronto and Manhattan. I was honored to be invited to meet him a while back at a Media Dinner showcasing his culinary artistry. Courses were matched with premium wines, and each dish reflected a regional Indian specialty starting with a Champagne reception and vegetables fried in a batter, (Pakoras). We also had chutneys and dips, along with Mahi-mahi Tikka, (boneless fish delicately broiled) Chicken Tikka, (cubed-marinated spiced chicken) and a Peshawar delicacy, lamb skewers grilled a'la Tandoor. The dinner whetted my appetite to get back and here I am.
In addition, there are many ways to choose your lunch or dinner. In the afternoons, Monday to Friday between 11:30am-3:00pm a buffet of chafing dishes to help yourself is offered for $12.95 with a variety of nine foods. On weekends the variety increases to 19-various foods, ($16.95).
There's also the Royal Banquet for two people, with 11-dinner items priced at $55.95, (Tandoori chicken, shammi kabab, seekh kabab, lamb roganjosh, chicken saag, cumin potatoes, creamed lentils, pulad rice, naan bread, raita and salad). Moveover, you will find a page for vegetarians priced from $9.95-$12.95 as well as a 5-course meal for $19.95. The chef also suggests the Palace Sizzling Grill for kabab lovers $14.95. And there are two special items on the menu that caught my eye; "Changez Khan Chicken," (whole Cornish Hen marinated and cooked in the clay oven) also Lamb Chops Kandhari, a recipe from Kandhar Province of Afghanistan. (tender lamb chops marinated with ginger, herbs, and spices, then grilled over charcoal in the clay oven). I hope to try them next time.
My favorite Indian style vegetable is Baingan Bharta; it's eggplant grilled over charcoal, then mashed and cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. The chicken, seafood, and lamb items are priced from 12.95-$18.95.
On my last visit I had their fabulous Tandoori Salmon, tenderly served In three large hunks, with tomatoes. As long as I couldn't finish it, they packed it up and there was enough for dinner. I find that in an Indian restaurant when you can't make up your mind, go for Kababs. At Bombay it's served with 5 different meats. There's another super item, their Lobster Masala, a seafood delicacy prepared with cubes of lobster priced at $26.95.
The menu is large and varied, with all desserts made on the premises.
Bombay Palace is open daily from11:30am to 3:00pm for lunch; Dinner from 5:30pm to 10:30pm. Weekend brunch Noon-3:00pm; weekends, open until 11 p.m. 8690 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 659-9944. Major credit cards accepted; Catering, Street Parking, (valet in the evening). It's great tasting food from the Northern part of India. For more information and reservation, visit www.bombaypalace.com