Friday, June 27, 2008

Bombay Cricket Club

In anticipation of a party Loni and I were attending later in the evening, it was decided to buffer our stomachs with some food.

After carefully considering the merits of the various anthrax wagons and "Careful, hot plate" Mexican food dining establishments, we decided on a different route for our spicy fix. Neither of us have eaten at an Indian restaurant for a while because all of the ones we previously enjoyed were getting...stale. Lucky for us, I had a new one to visit: Bombay Cricket Club. This place is next door to one of my favorites: Vincente's Pizza. Across the street is another fantastic food place, Riyadh's. I spied with my little eye another place I'll be visiting soon next to Riyadh's called Sel Gris. For that last one, better bring a fat wallet...

The website for the B.C.C. suggests reservations, so I made them. However, when we arrived, we had 4 people fighting to seat us in a nearly empty establishment. Maybe 5:30 is too early for the dinner people on a Friday night? We ate outside because it was a hot day and we are masochists. Actually, more so we could watch the parade of weirdos down Hawthorn and drink in the lovely cigarette smoke drifting over from Vincente's outside tables.

Our waitress was attentive, knowledgeable, funny, and clever. We took her suggestion and had a couple of "Mango Rita's" to start. We ought to have asked, because these are monstrously alcoholic, with a huge pour of Montezuma tequila topped with mango puree. Hint: this is not a top shelf alcohol. Apparently you can get 1800 instead, for a buck or two more. I recommend that you exercise this option if you value your brain cells. Regardless, we drank them, probably for the last time.

We chose some vegetable samosas to start, which were EXCELLENT. The pastry was perfectly crisp on the outside, hot on the inside, no excess oil or grease at all. The vegetables and the spice blend used in the filling worked very well together, and provided intriguing flavor. This has my vote for best samosa in Portland that I've eaten so far. The mango chutney served with this was also excellent. Our waitress brought us some "extra spicy" chutney along the lines of the usual green kind. Supposedly had habañero peppers in with the mint. It was kind of hot, but not really.

On the heat aspect, this is a delicate matter. We elected medium heat on our entrées, having previously overdone it dining elsewhere. This proved to be an error on our part. The heat was not present to any degree in either of our entrees. The green chutney brought a little fire to the palate, but overall not nearly enough.

Another caution regarding the breads. Their nan is HUGE. Like 16"x12". We ordered the garlic nan with our dinner, and it was very well prepared with just a hint of char along the edges. The garlic was on top of the nan, so it got a little bit burnt, but it was still delicious.

We selected two entrées, the Prawns Coconut Curry and the Vegetable Biryani.
The prawns were tender and delicious, but prawns are really hard to screw up. You get six relatively large prawns for $19, which isn't really a very good deal. Whatever. The sauce was rich, creamy, and not spicy at all. Medium, really? What, does mild come with a negative spicy level? I somehow sprayed the sauce all over my shirt while eating a prawn. I think I subconsciously wanted to save some for later.

The vegetable biryani had more spice, and more flavor. The vegetables were relatively large slices and chunks. They didn't cook the life out of the veggies, either, which I really appreciate. They also left in all of the cardamom pods and spice leaves, which makes it a bit of a minefield when eating. Yum! The spice level on this would be closer to a 3 out of 10 for an average diner, which puts it just above zero for my re-calibrated scale. The yogurt sauce was unremarkable.

The tab was $55 for two people, not including tip. Somewhat on the spendy side, but I've got another meal's worth of biryani in my fridge. Knowing what I do now, I'd knock off $15 by skipping the booze. Stick to water, it's better for you. Also, go ahead and order hot if you like spicy food.

Overall I am very pleased with this dining experience, and very much want to try it again. I'm looking forward to sampling the lamb shanks and the stuffed nan selections next time.

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