Restaurant review: Bombay Royale in Northampton

Sep 29 2016

A dazzling array of listings is featured on Bombay Royale’s menu.

Most Indian restaurant here in the Pioneer Valley are cautious, serving a predictable range of offerings simplified for American tastes. Not so at Bombay Royale in Northampton, a South Asian eatery that opened in Northampton earlier this year. Its fidelity to Indian culinary tradition makes it one of the region’s best such dining establishments.

A dazzling array of listings is featured on Bombay Royale’s menu. Many of the Indian restaurant standards make an appearance – Aloo Gobi ($12), Chicken Tikka Masala ($15), Lamb Vindaloo ($16), and Sheek Kebab ($18), and we suspect they’re executed skillfully executed.

It’s the less conventional items that make Bombay Royale noteworthy. The restaurant offers choices like Lamb Chettinadu ($16) that’s prepared in a black pepper and roasted coconut sauce, Malabar Goat Curry ($16), cashew-paste-marinated Shrimp Malai Kebab ($20), and Fish in Banana Leaf ($24).

Vegans and vegetarians each have their own sections on the menu, with the former describing the likes of Lassoni Gobi (batter-fried cauliflower – $14) and Coconut Mushrooms ($12). Vegetarian selections range from Palak (Spinach) Paneer ($13) to Malai Kofta (cheese dumplings in almond cashew cream – $13).

Appetizer selections at Bombay Royale also transcend the often mundane. In addition to the likes of Masala Dosa ($8) and Vegetable Samosa ($5), patrons can indulge in Kalmi Kebab (Indian spiced wings — $6) and spicy Calamari Cochin ($7).

An order of three Kheema Samosa (lamb-stuffed pastries — $5) had a spicy complexity to their ground lamb-potato filling. We guessed that cinnamon and cardamom both played a role in their flavor architecture.

We’re not particularly enamored of eggplant in any form, but the Tamarind Eggplant ($7) starter we ordered won us over. Thin, fried-crisp slices of eggplant had been topped with chickpeas, yogurt, and fried onion. Finely chopped fresh mint and a complexly flavorful tamarind sauce finished off a dish that was so tasty that we could hardly stop eating it.

Though Bhelpuri ($5) looked like little more that a mound of puffed rice cereal, it proved to be one of the most enjoyable parts of our Bombay Royale experience. Light and savory, the rice had been generously drizzled with flavor-packed two chutneys – mint and tamarind.

Chicken Korma ($15) is a dish that’s typically found on Indian restaurant menus but rarely reflects the finesse that characterized Bombay Royale’s version. Lush and creamy, with subtle ginger and garlic notes enlivening its cashew “gravy,” the korma delivered satisfaction in every forkful.

Shrimp Biriyani ($18) is a North Indian specialty that’s also common fodder, but Bombay Royale transforms this fried rice variant into something extraordinary. Decked out with authentic spaces and herbs, it’s a taste bud experience that’s sure to live in memory.

Feeling a bit adventurous, we opted to try Meen Molee ($24), one of the restaurant’s “plated specials.”

Chunks of salmon in a turmeric-coconut sauce, the dish had a boldness of flavor that might not be to everyone’s liking, but the dish deserves high marks for originality. A vegetable biryani side, an interesting house salad of sprouts and microgreens, and several pieces of garlic naan (tandoori flatbread) completed the presentation.

Bombay Royale isn’t licensed, so its beverage selections are limited to tea, soft drinks, and an assortment of Indian thirst-quenchers. The house is, however, BYOB-friendly.

Dessert choices at Bombay Royale were the traditional favorites we’ve seen elsewhere – Kheer, Gukab Jamun, and Mango Kulfi (all $4), for example – but executed with more finesse.

Rasmalai ($4) was three cheesecake-like patties served in a condensed milk sauce laced with a delicate caramel flavor. A garnish of chopped pistachios added complementary texture.

As is customary for Indian restaurants, Bombay Royale offers a luncheon buffet that is priced at $9.95 on weekdays. The weekend version, which is somewhat more elaborate, goes for $13.95.

Name: Bombay Royale
Address: 52 Crafts Avenue (Roundhouse Plaza), Northampton
Telephone: (413) 341-3537
Website: bombayroyale.com
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday; and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday, noon to 2:30 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.
Entree prices: $12 – $25
Credit cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Handicapped access: Accessible, with restrooms equipped for wheelchairs
Reservations: Accepted

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