3195 Commodore Plaza
I’m somewhat of a rookie when it comes to Indian cuisine. While I’ve only eaten the exotic fare a handful of times, I’m a huge fan of its bold flavors. After hearing one rave review after another, I set my sights on Bombay Darbar, a cozy, wholly authentic (claimed everyone who’s eaten there) sidewalk eatery in Coconut Grove. Once we sat down inside the tastefully bedecked space, we were immediately captivated — by our cordial and obliging server, by the looks of the dishes atop our neighbors’ table, and by the wafts of peppery goodness emanating from the kitchen.
Being as we were newbies to Indian food, our server kindly provided a few suggestions for our meal, as well as the background and cooking techniques of each. He even asked for our personal preference of spice from a range of one to 10, with the latter being the hottest. Our choice of the No. 6 turned out to be the perfect high-medium we were after.
First up: Kingfisher beers ($4.95 each), India’s most popular lager and the ideal companion to our spicy dinner, and a starter of vegetable samosas ($4.95). You might think of these crispy, stuffed pillows as the Indian version of a Cuban empanada filled with spiced potatoes and peas. While a decent two-patty appetizer portion, they weren’t the highlight of our meal — that comes next.
In keeping with our server’s recommendations, for entrees we noshed on Butter Chicken ($16.95), perhaps the most familiar among Indian dishes, and the Tandoori Chicken Tikka ($15.95), which is cooked in a traditional clay oven. The tandoori chicken was perfectly tender and exquisitely seasoned, offering a crunch from its accompanying sautéed onions. And our garlic naan bread ($3.45) served as the perfect scooper for the butter chicken’s creamy tomato-cashew sauce.
The only unfavorable aspect of our experience with Bombay Darbar was the battle to secure a reservation. The place is small and extremely popular among locals, so it took a few weeks for us to land a weekend table. My suggestion: call several days, if not a week or so, in advance. Trust me: whether you’re an Indian food fanatic or a novice like me, you don’t want to miss out on this seriously good grub.