Bombay Beat Indian Cuisine (Permanently Closed)Posted: 03/21/2012
On a random Sunday afternoon, Jelissa, Nathaniel, Timothy (the photographer) and I walked over to Bombay Beat on Hastings Street for a much-needed lunch break. It was the perfect day for something hot and spicy—chilly, grey and rainy, all you would want to do is snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a good book. We, of course, did the next best thing, and went out to eat!
Bombay Beat is one of a few newer Indian restaurants that have cropped up in the neighbourhood. Don’t be fooled by the familiar-looking structure next to Anton’s—Bombay Beat opened its doors in the middle of last year, replacing the original chain restaurant, Bombay Bhel. The building itself hasn’t been renovated, and the menu hasn’t been changed; however, there is a very different set of waiters working at the restaurant.
The four of us were promptly seated by the sole server (who also seemed to be the owner of the place). The restaurant was quite empty when we walked in, and there were no more than two tables seated the whole time we were there. You would think that this would translate to more attentive service… but more on that later.
We ended up ordering three plates to share. First up is the Butter Chicken, which has large pieces of boneless chicken breast in a tomato-based cream sauce. I make a point of ordering this every time I come here, as I really do like it (not because the other curries are too exotic for my tastes). The chicken was good; I don’t have any complaints about that. There were a lot of pieces in the dish, which means that it’s great for sharing. This time though, the sauce was less creamy than I would have liked. It was on the chunkier side, and it just wasn’t as smooth as the butter chicken I’ve had here before. Also, the sauce was medium warm (as opposed to piping hot), and so it cooled down quite a bit during the meal, which, of course, isn’t ideal.
Our second dish was the Goan Coconut Curry with Lamb. This is a tomato-based curry that is made with coconut cream (as is obvious in the name). I liked this more than the Butter Chicken, which was a little bit of a letdown, to be honest. This was served hot in a metal bowl, and the spices made for a very aromatic curry that wasn’t overwhelming—a nice change from the Asian yellow curries I usually eat. The lamb was cut up in smallish cubes, and was cooked thoroughly without being tough. It wasn’t too gamey tasting, and so it was quite enjoyable.
The Vindaloo with Beef was the spiciest, and yummiest, dish we had. Also served in a metal thermos-like bowl, there was a good potato-to-beef ratio, making for a filling meal. The potatoes were starting to disintegrate into the sauce, but this wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest—it just made for a thicker stew that could be scooped up easily by our pieces of naan. This yellow curry had little bits of chili in it, so that it was a very satisfying heat to it. The beef was just a touch tougher than the lamb was, but it wasn’t difficult to eat, and so didn’t diminish the overall dish.
Each of our dishes included a side order of either naan or rice. We decided to get two orders of the bread and only one of the rice, since the portion of rice was actually quite large the last few times I’ve been here. The Naan bread was fluffy and nicely baked—there were no burnt bits—and we ended up really wanting more of it! Only slightly seasoned, with a drizzle of oil and a few cilantro leaves, the bread was very simple, and didn’t detract from the different flavours of curry that were eaten with it. I have a major thing for bread (as you probably know by now), and so I’d always order this in lieu of rice. However, for blogging and variety purposes, we also had a large (single) order of cooled Aromatic Rice. The first thing I noticed about this was that the grains are a lot longer than Chinese rice. The second thing I noticed when I tasted the rice was that it had a… well, aromatic taste to it. I want to say soapy, but I don’t think that correctly conveys my thoughts about this. It was fragrant. There. The only other flavour in the rice came from the cilantro leaves that topped it; otherwise, like the naan, it let the curries take the spotlight. I still prefer Chinese rice, though. Years of conditioning, I suppose!
Service-wise, I find that Bombay Beat is very inconsistent. A few weeks ago, when I went for Sunday lunch by myself, the sweetest waitress was on duty. She was polite, friendly, and accommodating without being overbearing. I was struggling to decide on a drink (they were out of the mango shake), and so she let me try a small cup of the mango lassi, in case I didn’t like it (I didn’t)—and that’s just one of the many things she did that time that made the experience great. This time, however, the server (the owner?) was rather brusque and aloof, even though the restaurant was pretty quiet. I feel like I would have had a better time if he had asked us how we were doing, made some recommendations, and refilled our water more than once (that vindaloo had us sweating!)
I had a decent time at Bombay Beat, but I do think it was more due to my company than the restaurant’s atmosphere and the food. I have to admit that while I was eating I was comparing the Beat to the Bhel, and I found that both in service and food it was a step down from what it used to be. Food prices are pretty standard, but I definitely miss the Bhel’s lunch menu, which serves the same dishes but at a lowered cost. All in all, I’d say I had an ok-time, but I probably won’t be going back until they change their service.
Bombay Beat Indian Cuisine
4266 Hastings Street