I’ve enjoyed Indian food in the past but I hadn’t eaten it in a long time. I don’t eat grain on a daily basis, I avoid wheat and gluten, I eat beans very infrequently, and I rarely eat deep fried foods, items that are usually served in quantity in Indian restaurants. So, when heard and read about Bombay Spice Grill, I knew it would be different.
A healthy twist
The restaurant, owned by a health conscious doctor, offers a unique and healthier twist on Indian food. Besides offering meat, fish, poultry, tofu, bean, legume, and mock chicken, lamb, shrimp dishes. They promise that 97% of their appetizers and entrees contain less than 500 calories per serving. Calorie-conscious diners can view the nutrition breakdown of any menu item in a small pamphlet they offer. You can order brown rice, white rice, or skip the rice altogether.
The chefs at Bombay Spice Grill don’t use cream or milk. They don’t deep fry anything. They cook with only extra-virgin olive oil—no butter*, ghee*, or refined vegetable oils. I appreciate that they don’t use polyunsaturated vegetables oils, which are unstable, inappropriate for cooking, and hazardous to health. I have nothing against butter or ghee; I consider healthy and natural and I use them in my kitchen in some meals on some days. Still, I recognize the value of their decision not to use any butter fat in cooking. This makes their food accessible to vegetarians, vegans, omnivores, and people with an intolerance to lactose or casein. You’ll find yogurt in some dishes and it is clearly marked so you won’t have any surprises.
Bombay Spice Grill has won more than 20 awards, including Best Food 2009 at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival where they competed against 40 other restaurants in the valley.
An increasing number of restaurants now offer gluten-free menu items; although many have failed to create procedures to ensure a safe dining experience for people with celiac disease and other serious gluten-intolerances. At Bombay Spice Grill, 95% of the menu has been gluten-free since they opened, three years ago.
Four months ago the management decided that their staff needed to learn about cross contamination and how to avoid it after one of their gluten-free diners was accidentally served their wheat-based naan. Although the customer didn’t consume the wheat bread, it was on his plate and could have been a problem.
The manger attended a gluten-free expo this year (2011) and consulted with people who belong to the Celiac Disease Foundation Greater Phoenix Chapter, so that he could understand the needs of gluten-fee diners. The restaurant’s owner invested in separate pots, pans, knives, and utensils and created policies for the kitchen and wait staff. They even have a separate grill for cooking their gluten-free papadums.
Gluten-free dining made easy
The restaurant’s regular menu alerts diners who follow a gluten-free or vegan diet to ask for a special menu. Anytime a customer asks for a gluten-free menu, either the manager or the chef come to the table to find out about any other food allergies or intolerances (many people have multiple food intolerances) the person may have. This information gathered gets recorded on a pink note card that gets stapled to their order. The server is alerted about this so that everyone in the front and back of the restaurant knows that this particular table is gluten-free. Since Bombay Spice Grill has had these produces in place, they have not had any issues with cross contamination.
More on the menu
You can order soup, salad, hot or cold appetizers, vegetable, chicken, lamb and shrimp Biriyani, and a variety of entrees that you can customizable, from the base through the sauce and key ingredients.
You’ll find delicious, freshly made naan, roti, dosas, and papadum crisps. The thin, crepe-like dosas (made from brown rice and lentil flour) and the crispy papadum crisps (made from lentil and chickpea flour) are gluten free. Their sauces and desserts are also gluten-free. Only eight items on the entire menu contain gluten.
My friend and I shared three starters: Seared Eggplant, Shrimp Tikka Kebab, Lamb Tikka Kebab, and a mixed vegetable side dish with a spinach, broccoli, garlic, ginger, tomato and fenugreek seasoning. The food was artfully plated and delicious.
Eggplant has never been one of my favorite dishes; although I’ve had it in a couple of ethnic restaurants, one of them a Thai place in downtown Phoenix, where I really enjoyed it. I loved the seared eggplant dish. My friend and I thought it was great. We found it tender, succulent, and full of flavorful without a lot of fat. (I would order it again.) The tamarind sauce served on the side added a slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor. We liked the shrimp and the spiced lamb cut into sausage-like rounds. Both were sauteed with onions, red and green bell peppers, garlic, and served with a mildly spiced cilantro sauce. The dosas and papadums made great accompaniments for scooping up tasty morsels of meat, vegetables, and sauce. We were comfortably full so we didn’t order dessert.
If you drink alcohol, you can order regular or gluten-free beer or one of the many internationally selected wines, served by the glass or bottle. We didn’t try any of these.
We liked the background music. It was neither too loud nor distracting, issues we’ve had with some other restaurants. We liked the open feel of the place, how neat and tidy it was, and that we could actually see into the open kitchen.
The staff and service
We found the staff friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. Our orders were taken promptly and food came to our table fairly quickly. Both of us want to go back for lunch, dinner, or brunch. On a future visit I would like to try the lamb chops, seared salmon, and Tandoori wings, another vegetable dish with a different sauce, and their rice pudding and mango sorbet. I think my friend will probably dine there with her husband next time.
Bombay Spice Grill & Wine is located at 10810 N. Tatum Blvd. (NW corner of Tatum & Shea across from Whole Foods Market). They are open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Wednesday is Date Night. A couple can order one appetizer, two entrees, a Dessert Flight (a sampling of all three of their desserts), and one bottle of wine for $40. They are also open from 11 am to 3 pm on Sundays for a Botomless Brunch Buffet ($11.95 per person) that provides all you can eat from a selection of eight menu items.
For more information visit their web site:
http://www.bombayspice.com/ or call them at 602-795-0020.