A number of notable people have dined at The Bombay Club, including President Bill Clinton. Apparently, he was quite the regular patron as it’s located just steps away from The White House. If it’s good enough for a president, chances are it’s good enough for me. I’m a big fan of Ashok Bajaj’s restaurants, especially Rasika, so I had to see what brunch would be like. The Bombay Club has been on my friend Lucy’s bucket list for a while, so I rounded up my pals for Sunday brunch.
When you arrive, there’s a grand piano and lounge area adjacent to the main dining room. It was a bit too chilly to sit on the patio, so we opted for inside seating. The Bombay Club is much more formal and sophisticated than our typical brunch locales, especially with a live pianist in tow. Manisha, Lucy, and I opted for bottomless champagne accompanied with fresh mango juice to start. A variety of fresh juices are available including pineapple, cranberry, and orange to pair with your Champagne. We noticed a number of older families and large groups gathered for a lovely afternoon.
After our first mimosa, we made our way to the buffet as the line had eventually slowed down. Indian brunch or breakfast items can vary based on the region. The brunch buffet at Bombay Club includes an impressive selection of items with freshly baked naan served tableside for just $35. We began with the starters and piled on various salads and chutneys along with a sweet potato chaat. I naturally gravitate to the spicy red onion chutney and cucumber raita, both of which did not disappoint.
Lucy was immediately drawn to the vibrant sweet potato chaat. Chaats are generally a mixture of sweet, spicy and tangy flavors. Lucy took her first bite and discovered the flavors on her tongue were subtle at first. After noticing the gentle sweetness of the potato, the spices in the dish gave way to an earthy and fragrant flavor. Lucy paired the chaat with a piece of naan and raita to soothe her palate from the spice before taking another bite of the chaat.
After a satisfying start with appetizers we dug into the mains presented in stunning silver chafers. If you’re vegetarian like myself, Bombay Club as a range of options available for just about every diet. I picked up the akoori, which is essentially a spiced egg scramble. While decent in taste, it wasn’t especially noteworthy.
Manisha went in for the lamb korma. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the korma gravy had amazing flavor. Manisha had the korma with the pulao. Peas are fairly standard in this rice dish, but they added a needed sweetness along with a beautiful pop of color.
Paneer and aloo hold a special place in my heart given my Indian heritage. My brother has a well-known obsession with the cubed cottage cheese, while my dad loves all things aloo. Indulging in palak paneer and aloo mirchi seemed only natural as it reminds me of my family. The dark green gravy in the palak paneer consists of spicy pureed spinach. The potatoes in the aloo mirch were light and well seasoned. Both dishes packed a punch in flavor and heat.
Between our courses, the bartender sent out a Champagne cocktail for us with Chambord and pineapple juice. The cocktail was refreshing and sweet to help offset the spicy flavors on our palates.
The Dal Kabila was the knockout dish for me. Scooping up the spiced lentils with a piece of naan and balancing the heat of the dish with cucumber yogurt is just about as good as it gets for me.
Even though Manisha exhausted her plate with all the dishes presented, she had to make room for chicken Makhani with rice. She couldn’t stop raving about the butter chicken, especially since it’s an absolute favorite of hers. Lucy loved the chicken Makhani as well, along with baingan bharta. The eggplant dish was spicier than she anticipated, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.
Despite feeling satisfied, we couldn’t leave without indulging in dessert. We put in our orders for masala chai before picking our dessert. Most Indian desserts are loaded with sweetness however the Seviyan Payasam was the perfect palate cleanser for a heavy buffet. Manisha felt it wasn’t overpowering and the vermicelli noodles blended in well with the kheer.
The chef sent out a beautiful mango creme brûlée for us to share. The Indian twist with mango and pineapple on the classic dessert was innovative. Fresh kiwi added a tanginess to the sweet treat. I personally don’t enjoy too many Indian desserts, but the Gulab Jamun is one I can’t pass up. The spongy milk-based sweet is soaked in a warm rose syrup. The Gulab Jamun at Bombay Club brought me back to my childhood, having just two pieces wasn’t enough!
Lastly we had the Rabri, served in a martini glass consisting of condensed milk topped with pistachios and a silver leaf. Lucy loved this special, especially as the pistachios provided a nice crunchy texture and sweetness. The creamy muesli-like mixture was delightful.
This buffet skews more towards lunch than brunch, but is still prepared well and just spicy enough for our tastebuds. The service was impeccable and the live piano music elevated the experience.
The Bitches say: A. An upscale and formal brunch filled with live music and prominent Indian flavors. The Bombay Club is great for families or an afternoon date.
815 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006