Bombay Blue's in Glen Burnie has gotten some good buzz, but we were still surprised by the caliber of the Indian food on a recent visit — and the size of the place.
The dining room seats 175, with more room at the 40-foot-long bar. It's under the same roof as a La Fontaine Bleue events venue that once housed its own restaurant, Bleue's Bistro. After the bistro closed, the space opened as Bombay Blue's under new ownership in November 2015.
The hushed dining room evokes an air of elegance with white over black tablecloths, pleasing goldenrod walls, billowy curtains and ornate light fixtures in an otherwise perfunctory space that overlooks a parking lot and Ritchie Highway.
But it's not a far-flung outpost. The owners of Bombay Blue's are positioning their restaurant to be a destination for Baltimoreans as well as nearby residents.
"We want to make it appealing to local people," said Senthil Rajamani, who owns the restaurant with chefs Abraham Varghese and Sivaraman Balamurugan. "We want to maintain its authenticity while making it palatable to the American palate."
Rajamani, who owns an Indian restaurant in Newtown, Conn., describes the menu at Bombay Blue's as regional Indian cuisine with a modern twist.
We didn't need any nudging to try the various menu items that are familiar if you're a fan of Indian cuisine.
Our server started us off with a woven basket of papad, a thin, cracker-like bread, accompanied by three sauces: tamarind, a standout lime pickle and cilantro.
Our generous appetizers were carefully and attractively plated, a trend that continued throughout the meal. We enjoyed the captivating beef coconut fry — a mildly spiced mixture of tenderloin, shallots, garlic, coconut and curry leaves formed into a round disc that topped a similar shape of soft potatoes. A spinach-rice mix offered another interesting flavor and texture to the dish.
Another starter, the Mysore mini dosa, was a plate-size crepe that could be filled with vegetables or chicken. We were disappointed that the vegetables included only potatoes — which were good but unexciting — and were dolloped in the middle of the thin pancake. Once rolled, the empty ends of the crepe hung like loose shirtsleeves.
The various chutneys that were arranged in dabs next to the crepe were more interesting. We especially liked the pumpkin and tomato jams.
The wedges of naan, India's puffy flatbread, were pleasantly chewy and satisfying. The garlicky cilantro pesto version was particularly good, especially when dipped in the cool, creamy raita sauce.
Bombay Blue's has plenty of options to quench your thirst, including various wines by the glass and bottle; draft, domestic and imported beers; and cocktails, including a mangotini and a spiked lassi (India's chilled yogurt drink with a kick).
Our meal was thoughtfully paced. By the time our entrees arrived, the other dishes had been cleared or stowed in take-home containers.
The Tellicherry chicken — one of the restaurant's special platters — gets its intriguing flavor from the peppercorn after which it is named, as well as coriander. The stew-like mixture came with spinach rice, fluffy basmati rice, potatoes and lentil sauce — a delicious combination.
Some dishes on the menu are labeled with one or two red peppers to alert diners to their degree of spiciness. Our waiter was concerned that the lamb vindaloo, marked with two peppers, would be too much heat for us. We assured him we'd be OK, and we were.
We found the tender lamb, potatoes and broth slightly fiery but still warm and friendly to our taste buds. Basmati rice soothed the dish.
Desserts added their own calming effect. The creamy mango tart tasted strongly of the sweet tropical fruit. It was topped with a ball of vanilla ice cream and decorative swirls of mango and raspberry sauces.
The gulab jamun, a popular South Asian treat, was a great ending in its simplicity. A singular, rotund dumpling was glazed with just enough sugar syrup and paired with vanilla ice cream to satisfy any cravings for sweets.
There are a lot of Indian restaurants around town, but the authentic dishes, capable service and affordable menu at Bombay Blue's should not be overlooked. It's not that far from Baltimore. And there's room for everyone.
Where: 7514 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie
Contact: 443-883-3547, bombaybluesbistro.com
Open: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Prices: Appetizers, $5-$8; entrees, $14-$23
Food: Modern Indian
Noise/TVs: We went over Labor Day weekend when the dining room was quiet; six TVs.
Service: Polite and helpful with the menu.
Parking: Parking lot
Special diets: Can accommodate.
Reservation policy: Accepts reservations.
[Key: Superlative: ✭✭✭✭✭; Excellent: ✭✭✭✭; Very good: ✭✭✭; Good: ✭✭; Promising: ✭.]