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Bombay Grill

June 22, 2008


FREDERICK, Md. -- On a hot and humid afternoon, my companion and I enjoyed the Indian buffet lunch at Bombay Grill in downtown Frederick.

Entering the cool restaurant, I was greeted and seated at the window. The tablecloth was white butcher paper. A bottle of Italian mineral water decorated the table. The d├Ęcor consisted of two carved Indian statues, a painting of an Indian procession, and a framed mandala, a circular design, composed of peacock feathers and tiny mirrors.

Soothing Indian music played in the background.

I eavesdropped as a party of seven men from India paid their bill. "Please divide the bill by seven and charge each credit card," they asked. This request was honored. I took this as a sign of the hospitality of the staff.


My friend arrived, we greeted each other and sat down. Fresh hot naan, a baked leavened bread, appeared, as if by magic. Another good sign.

I asked to order from the menu, but, at lunchtime, only the buffet was served. The price was $9.95. We walked over to the buffet tables.

A plate of salad greens was nearly gone at 1:15 p.m. However, I have never seen lettuce salad as part of an Indian cuisine. and I am not fond of salad. I moved on to the feast.

Pappads, crisp, lacy bread and pakora, small pockets of deep-fried eggplant were the appetizers. An assortment of chutney condiments included mango chutney, cilantro, lemon and salt chutney, tomato and onion chutney and cucumbers in yogurt.

The hot foods, lined up in their warming trays, looked like the procession in the painting. First was mateer paneer peas, sweet peas and cheese in a curry sauce. Then a combination of dall or lentils and black-eyed peas. The next tray held zucchini masala. A masala is a spicy mix that could include cumin, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg. A vegetarian would be happy with the choices.

For omnivores, there was lamb biryani, a spicy, hot lamb and rice dish with spices like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and could have included ginger, mace and mint. The blending of spices was deft.

The next tray held tandoor chicken roasted in a tandoori oven. It was a gorgeous shade of red, and succulent. The other chicken dish was chicken tiki masala -- chunks of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices and baked in a tandoor oven.

The final offering was the most important, mounds of fragrant basmati rice with bits of festive red and yellow rice. Rice served as the mild contrast to the piquant tastes and exotic flavors.

We loaded our plates with a spoonful of this, a taste of that. Our white plates became colorful mandalas. As we ate, all the flavors blended into a very pleasant whole.

We filled and cleared our plates two times. My companion said, "There is nothing I don't like," which was her way of saying, "I like everything."

We ordered chai tea, a spicy tea with milk. We seemed to wait forever but that is because the tea was made fresh for us. Served in a metal container, it was a very hot, very milky, nuanced tea, $2.95 each. For those who like alcoholic beverages, there was an extensive bar and an assortment of wines, beers and mixed drinks.

Dessert was rice pudding with cashews and sultanas, fresh and cool, sweet and milky and a bowl of orange slices. We served ourselves in copper bowls. On the bar, the final touch, were refreshing seeds, toothpicks and business cards.

As we ate, we watched outside our window. We saw a parade of people on the move, on scooters and skateboards, in strollers and motorized wheelchairs, old men tapping with canes, young soldiers strutting, lovers strolling, all manner of interesting folk strolling downtown Frederick on an early summer's day.

As we left, I asked my friend, "What did you think of this restaurant?"

More straightforward now she said, "I thought it was a nice place to have lunch. It was fun. I enjoyed it."

"What about the hot peppers and spices?" I asked.

"You have an asbestos mouth," she said. "You can eat anything. But I don't. It seemed just right to me. Not too hot. Just right."

We were both pleased with the spiciness and heat of the dishes. We enjoyed a leisurely, filling and delicious lunch for two for $31, including tip. Vegetarians and nonvegetarians will be pleased, as was this omnivore.

3 1/2 stars out of five

Bombay Grill1/2 (out of 5)

Food: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars

Service: 3 1/2 stars

Ambience: 2 stars

Address: 137 N. Market St., Frederick, Md.

Hours: Open from noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays. Buffet served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Happy Hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Phone: 301-668-0077

Style: Indian

Web site:

Range: Luncheon buffet costs $9.95 plus tax and tip. Beverages extra.

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