price range: $7 (lentil curry) to $20 (seafood thali)
modestly, as a foodcourt stand, an anomaly in Colonie Center’s
hive of fast-food fare. When Bombay Grill owner Naeem Yousuf
murmured the monthly rent he was soon to be charged for his
hole in the wall, I was shocked—until I realized I’d misheard
him, and the number he’d quoted was the rent he’d already
been paying. The proposed increase would have trebled that
amount! So he seized the opportunity to move into a place
of his own, on Route 155 in Latham.
provenance has left this building with unusual characteristics.
It has the boxiness of an old fast-food joint, but the bathrooms
are labeled in Italian. The dining area is split by a low
divider, and one corner hosts a juice bar.
case, it’s a selection of sweet yogurt-based drinks called
lassi, a North Indian specialty with a long history,
a drink now commonly enjoyed with a variety of fruit flavorings.
Bombay Grill offers the traditional mango along with peach,
strawberry or mixed fruit. My daughter, whose main reason
for visiting an Indian restaurant seems to be scarfing down
the lassi, reports that the strawberry variety was
seemed lonely the evening of our visit. Yousuf was by himself
working the floor, always a liability when there are customers
to be seated and kitchen pickups to be made at the same time.
Let’s hope this was only a temporary exigency.
introduction to Indian cuisine is a thali, the literal
meaning of which, “plate,” has blossomed into a multi-course
meal served on one generous platter. Bombay Grill offers four
varieties: the vegetarian shahi thali ($13), the royal
thali ($14), which features chicken masala and
lamb korma, a seafood-oriented thali for $20
and an array that showcases the traditional clay oven, a chicken-and-kebab-based
tandoori thali ($17).
of those proved irresistible to my wife, who likes to occasionally
eschew her carnivorousness. The Bombay shahi thali
includes chana masala, a chickpea-based stew; the spinach-and-cheese
palak paneer and a portion of mixed vegetable masala,
featuring curried potatoes, peas and cauliflower. Alongside
it are basmati rice and tangy yogurt-based raita, with
a choice of samosa or pakora as well. A very satisfying array,
served with its own tandoor-grilled flatbread, nan—a
bargain at 13 bucks.
which are deep-fried pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas,
and pakoras, chickpea-flour-based fritters with mixed-veggie
fillings, are staples of the appetizer list, and we started
the meal with a tasty six-dollar assortment that also included
aloo tiki, a spicy potato pancake.
a little under the weather myself, I fought what ailed me
with a bowl of dal ($3), a soup of curried yellow lentils.
It had the satisfying effect of chicken soup, enhanced, I’m
convinced, by the added aromatics.
most of the menu features Punjab fare, the Indian-Pakistani
variety characteristic of nearly all such restaurants, Bombay
Grill adds a column of Afghan platters. At the heart of these
are kebabs, built from chicken or lamb or beef; the meat is
in chunks, minced, or sliced as chops, but in all cases it’s
grilled and served on a platter with rice and salad and a
side of nan.
different lamb preparations are available individually or
on a mixed platter ($16). As a tikka kebab, the meat
is minced and seasoned and shaped into an oblong patty before
it’s skewered and grilled. Other cubed and sliced formations
gave the platter a varied look that supported the surprisingly
varied flavors of the preparations.
hot run through the tandoor oven gives meat a succulent alternative
to grilling, and chicken is a made-to-order meat for that
process. Traditional tandoori chicken comes in half ($8) and
full ($13) portions, and we figured ordering the latter gave
us an economical second meal. Unfortunately, some parts of
the bird were burnt, suggesting that the understaffed kitchen
was too rushed to pay proper attention—a suspicion confirmed
when our poori arrived. That’s a thin-crusted bread
that’s deep-fried into a puffy balloon, a spectacular sight,
but our order had long since deflated.
the items we didn’t get a chance to sample are biryanes—basmati-rice-based
compotes of meat and/or vegetables that take on wonderfully
complex flavors ($9 to $13). And there’s a wealth of sauces
and spices I enjoy revisiting, particularly the super-spicy
lunch at Bombay Grill centers around the $8 weekday buffet
($10 on weekends), and there are many take-out specials available
for both lunch and dinner. Mondays are given over to a vegetarian
dinner buffet (5-10 PM, $11).
finally in a position to note that an Indian restaurant entering
this market has a lot of strong competition. Yousuf is off
to good start, but there’s more ground for him to cover before
settling in here for a long stay.