The Bombay Club’s High-End Eats Are a Big Draw for DC’s Gourmet Purists
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s busy-busy political and high-end corporate center just a block or two from the White House, the Bombay Club epitomizes all that glamour and good eats mean. After all, during the Clinton presidency, it became a must-visit destination for politicos and friends. Its lush décor and impeccable style mirror the days of India’s grand and opulent private clubs — though the doors here open to both the general and genteel American public.
While the décor plays a role in setting the posh scene, it’s what executive chef Nilesh Singhvi produces that sends this D.C. stalwart to its top-tier status. It’s not surprising, therefore, that according to D.C.’s Washingtonian magazine, The Bombay Club was ranked among 2016’s top 100 restaurants. With that in mind, browse the menu knowing that whatever you select will be exceptional. And as you ponder, consider sipping on an apple cider mimosa or an apple martini. Or an Indian beer.
Whether you are lunching or dining in, the menus are relatively parallel. And that is a plus if you have discovered the crispy kale chat appetizer. An addictive treat, the dish consists of the leafy green accented with a date-tamarind chutney and a daub of yogurt. You may want to order two or three servings, especially if you are with friends, as the offering will vanish quickly.
Also delicious is the Goan masala crab appetizer made with spiced lump crab meat garnished with curry leaves. Other appetizer offerings could also tempt you, from duck kebabs (duck meat, chiles, ginger) and mango shrimp to the classic mulligatawny soup and lamb kebabs with coriander, ginger, garlic, and garam masala.
But all those choices may leave you wondering where to go from there, for you could order enough to satisfy every Indian-food craving, but you may need a huge appetite. So, where to begin: Meat-based entrées span the whole field from cilantro shrimp with lime leaf to marinated lamb chops; mango fish curry (delicious composite of turbot and crab meat with onion and coconut); lamb vindaloo, the classic and often spicy Goan lamb dish; and the nalli gosht, or lamb shank, with a mild tomato sauce base.
For vegetarian entrées or side dishes, the menu includes a dazzling dish of fried Brussels sprouts with coconut and curry leaf—and whether you are a fan of this crunchy cold-weather veggie, you will positively swoon over this presentation. The okra with pickled ginger and the rich dal made with black lentils are must-haves as well. And if you are a strict vegetarian, simply choose the dal with a side of bread, and your meal is complete.
Another Bombay Club special is an unusual category that I rarely see on Indian restaurant menus. That would be the thali, an entrée that consists of all meal components served on a silver platter. The kitchen offers three versions: seafood curry; fish curry, Kashmiri lamb, and chicken makhni; and market fresh vegetables with paneer (Indian cheese) and dal.
Be sure to order one or several bread varieties, for the kitchen produces some enticing options, from a mint or onion-basil bread to goat cheese kulcha or Peshawari naan, the ultimate Indian bread with raisins, nuts, apricots, fennel, and pepper.
As your meal winds down, inquire about dessert options, as these may be seasonal. But one that is usually available is the rich, sumptuous stick toffee pudding, the perfect ending to an Indian feast.
What’s the score? The Bombay Club is an elegant destination outfitted with high-end touches, making the scene more palatial than humdrum. But, of course, it’s the food that will win the hearts and minds of those devoted to fine and traditional Indian cuisine. It’s all here, wrapped up in one classy package.