After our amazing food and wine pairing experience at Roka Akor, we were excited to try Bombay Spice, next door and same ownership, but worlds away in terms of cuisine. Bombay Spice is known for their healthy update of typical Indian cuisine, and matching wines to the variety of spices would be no easy task.
First off, the restaurant is such an incredibly cheerful space to walk into, with a front wall of glass that beckons you inside (and can be opened in fair weather, as it was the evening we visited). A mix of appealing bright colors, dark wood, and subtle Indian design touches keep your eye moving around, including looking into the open kitchen or awed at the fully-stocked bar. Bombay Spice shares restrooms with neighbor Roka Akor, which is a little strange, but not a huge deal.
The chef prides himself on exploring healthier options to some traditional dishes, using olive oil instead of butter or ghee, for example. No heavy cream is added, and most of the dishes are vegetarian or vegan, a welcome touch. The chef explained to us that this sort of cooking is actually more traditional, more homestyle, as opposed to the more heavy versions often found in restaurants.
Course 1: Papadum with Sauces, Naan, and House Salad with Quinoa, paired with a Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The Papadum are crispy crackers made of flour, ground lentils, and spices, with 4 spices to try: tamarind, raita, mint, and vindaloo, all unique and fun to taste. We appreciated the naan and used it both to dip and as a sort of palate cleanser over the next few courses. The house salad is an unusual combination of quinoa, chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and salad greens tossed in citrus juices – a tough pairing for wine, but the Sauvignon Blanc took it in stride, tasty with all three dishes. Pretty typically for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, there were plenty of both grassy and citrus notes, which were perfect for these three appetizers.
Course 2: Seared Tofu, chef’s replacement for the typical cottage cheese cubes and an amazing dish, probably my favorite of the night. Paired with a Domaine du Vieux Chene rosé from the Cotes du Rhone, this was a combination to remember. The rosé had a touch of sweetness and high acidity that both complemented the spice dusting and cut through the tamarind dipping sauce served alongside. Inspired food and wine pairing!
Course 3: Vegetable Biryani. The classic basmati rice dish, with fresh vegetables, raisins, almonds, and spices, this was a great example of a healthier version of an already pretty healthy dish. The vegetables were crispy and varied, and the rice cooked just right, not overdone at all. The Heinz Eifel Shine Riesling cut through the spiciness of the dish, offering a sweetness and fatness that worked just right with this dish. Another superb food and wine pairing!
Course 4: Dessert Flight: Rice Pudding, Carrot Halwa, and Mango Sorbet, served with a Funf Moscato from Germany (yes, Germany!). A brilliant wine choice, it was sweet and acidic enough to stand up to three very different desserts: warm carrots, cool rice pudding, and sorbet. Definitely order this combination, the temps and textures keep evolving, almost dancing with the wine – I was just sorry I had to share!
We had an amazing experience, elated both by the cleaner tasting Indian food and by the masterful pairing job with the wines. Not a single misstep and plenty of opportunities to do so, the wines complemented the dishes, played off of them, and were good on their own. One thing I noticed is that I felt like I had just eaten a good meal, but was not overstuffed, as is sometimes the case after Indian food -- definitely a benefit of the cuisine re-do. Service was professional and friendly, with dishes explained and questions answered. Both in Bombay Spice and neighbor Roka Akor, we noticed a friendliness, lack of ego, and a clear pride in doing a professional job. Nice option for lunch, dinner, take-out, or delivery. (I wonder how much it would cost to get it to our home in Downers Grove?)
Please visit the Bombay Spice website, like on Facebook, and follow on Twitter.
Disclaimer: This wine tasting meal was comped for me for review purposes, courtesy of Bombay Spice. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the restaurant a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.
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