SOME people who know me, and know I don’t do hot-spicy food, questioned why on earth I was going to have dinner at Bombay Brasserie, the Indian restaurant at Taj Cape Town. The answer is simple: not all Indian food is hot-spicy; it is often delicately flavoured and nuanced and will not take the top layer of skin off your mouth.
The restaurant is tucked away in a corner of the city centre hotel – which has had a fairly recent makeover in the bar area where everyone wants to pose for covetable Instagram pics, reclining on velvet couches or on the stairs – so part of me wants to say it’s a “hidden” gem. You certainly won’t find it by chance. However, unlike the general curse of hotel restaurants which often take the form of large, mostly empty dining halls, Bombay Brasserie was full, and for good reason.
The environment is on a grand scale, with large sparkling chandeliers, rich fabric covering the tables, and striking murals. The service is impeccable, and the food is excellent. You can get a vegetarian or non-vegetarian set menu for the very reasonable price of R545 a person: four courses, eight dishes. It’s remarkable. At a five-star hotel, people.
While many of those dishes were tempting, we decided to go à la carte. Starters can be ordered individually or on a three- or four-piece tasting platter. We had three. I love Palak Patta Chaat (it was my friend’s first time and I believe she is converted). It’s spinach coated in chickpea flour, crispy and light, and dressed with sweet yoghurt and tamarind chutney. The second dish was Kasundi Paneer – cottage cheese marinated in a special blend and charred in the tandoor. Tulsi Prawns are coated with basil pesto and also done in the tandoor. This was all after a delectable mouthful of dahi puri as an amuse bouche.
For our main courses, we agreed to disagree; I ordered butter chicken, my friend went for the heat with lamb rogan josh. We added Dal Makhni because it’s the only way I’ll eat lentils, simmered over charcoal with cream, butter and spices. With a bowl of rice and another of cucumber raita, and glorious garlic butter naan (because if you don’t have naan have you even had an Indian meal?), we had quite the feast, and relished every delicious mouthful (none of which burned me). Full disclosure: when the main courses arrived we both thought the portions were a bit on the small side, and threw each other side eyes, but we were wrong. We ate our fill and there were still leftovers, which were packaged up beautifully for my friend to have a second breakfast the next day, lucky her. Even the wine we didn’t finish was wrapped elegantly in tissue paper, to keep it classy when exiting the restaurant.
From the website: “While North Indian food is the main order of the day, the extensive menu also features a selection of other Indian cuisines, ensuring guests are granted an all-around dining experience that will transport patrons to the heart of India without leaving Cape Town’s inner city.
“A dining ritual here promises an unforgettable culinary journey in a breathtaking setting with dramatic mural art and a live open kitchen. The vibrant interiors and dimmed lighting set a sophisticated and authentic dining experience for fashionable diners and food connoisseurs.”
Bombay Brasserie lived up to that hype.
Dinner 6pm to 10.30pm. Call 021 819 2000 or click here for more information.