3570 Chain Bridge Rd.
Fairfax, VA. 22030
I must preface this review with one statement in the event the review seems a little bias – I absolutely love Indian food – and I absolutely love this restaurant, having never, ever had a bad experience there. With that being said, hopefully I won’t gush so much that I overshadow the purpose.
Indian food isn’t for everyone. That could be from any amount of reasons – but there are some people on earth that would do best just to drive on by an Indian restaurant, lest they end up spending the rest of their life crowing about how bad the food is when in reality, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Indian food is about intensity, and at times if you eat the same food I do, intestinal fortitude. If your general flare for food consists of Arthur Treachers and Ruby Tuesdays – keep on driving – Indian food isn’t going to sit well with you. But if you are an adventure hound, and like rich, powerful dishes served hot, with value, love and care – than Indian food is for you and Bombay Bistro is where you should go to get it.
Part of the reason I continue back to Bombay Bistro time and time again is that their product never seems to falter, their atmosphere is warm, clean, well presented and their waitstaff are not only fluent English speakers, but are friendly, smile while they work and are well versed in the preparation and ingredients that go into their dishes. I have been to far too many Indian restaurants where these characteristics are illusive at best.
The other telling high mark for Bombay – is their loyal and dedicated customer base, who fill the seats on a daily basis and can make it hard to get a seat from time to time, though long waits have not been part of my experience with them because I generally go early rather than late. They are always busy – but not so busy that eating there is a chore.
The food is such a proper balance of rustic meets elegant, value meets price, freshness meets every guest. I have never had a dish which felt or tasted old or previously prepared and steam-tabled. Even their daily buffet which does utilize a steam table, is fresh and begs you to come back for seconds and thirds. The roast fish they serve on the buffet is worth checking out. It varies from salmon to white-fish, but is always moist and inviting.
My last trip there with my wife was one of those “Honey, please come with me to Bombay” moments. I had an itch for their food – an itch that other places have not been able to scratch with any success. This time around we loaded up on the appetizers and I was the only one to have a main course – as my wife was already full.
We started with Mussels alla Bistro and fresh naan. The sauce was so enjoyable I had to stop myself from eating it like a soup. I didn’t take the time to dissect the dish as far as ingredients – but why should I? It was food you didn’t have to think about. It was just plain good. The sauce is however tomato based and wonderful with fresh naan.
Then we moved onto Vegetable Samosas, Papri Chaat and the Bombay Mini-Delights. The Samosa is a must have every time we go, followed by the Papri Chatt which are more my favorite than my wife’s. The Mini-Delights were not something I would jump up and down and rave about. They were mini, but not very delightful. Not being an expert in the area, I can say that there is a good chance I don’t know what I am talking about here – but the lentil/rice cakes were very bland and screamed for some seasoning such as salt or vinegar. The dish – though somewhat inspired in preparation – seemed like it was missing something and might disappoint the casual passer-by as bland and lacking flavor. I simply chalked it up to a miss and thought little of it. It is however one of the weakest dishes I have ever had there.
The Lamb Vindaloo was next on my hit list. Come to think of it, I almost religiously order this dish, even if I am having another. It is closest to a lamb curry for the uninitiated. Though – this one is hot. Very Hot. Upon request they will make it even hotter by adding fresh chopped chilies to it when they assemble the dish, though for most it will do just fine right off the menu. It’s rich, pungent, tangy paste sauce blends well with the clove and cardamom basmati rice that comes with it. The rice can act as a suppressant for the fire induced by the seasoning in the dish.
Some of our other favorites are the Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka, Mulligatawny Soup and Tomato Shorba, Dal Makhani, Mango Chutney and Naan. The Paratha bread, though very dense when compared to naan, is very filling and adds a whole wheat twist to some of the dishes when dipped.
The dishes named here are just the tip of the ice-burg as far as their offerings, which extend into deep rooted traditional southern Indian vegetarian samplings. The restaurant has a full service bar with all the traditional liquors. The only place they seem to be rivaled by others is in their beer selection which could be a little more bountiful when it comes to Indian imports – beers which tend to truly compliment the cuisine much better than a domestic or other foreign import.
If you are lucky, you can sit at one of the smaller squat tables in the rear of the restaurant which come with comfortable back pillows and well cushioned seating, and serve as a quaint, welcome addition when having a cozy, private dinner.
Simply said. If you like good Indian food, you owe it to yourself to indulge in what this busy little Fairfax eatery has to offer. If you’re on a quest to learn more about Indian food – I am certain the staff will help walk you through the menu, as they seem to take a great deal of pride in what they do.
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