Restaurants: An Awesome Indian on the Lake
Some secrets are not worth keeping, and the Bombay Bar & Grill in Lee is one of them. Located at the Quality Inn motel (formerly the Black Swan) on Laurel Lake, it’s one of those hidden gems (well, perhaps, it’s more a diamond in the rough) that my friend the Vivacious Vegan introduced me to a few weeks ago. As you pass through the motel lobby, you can see the murky lake through the windows of the greenhouse dining room. The bright yellow room is incongruously forlorn, which I find beguiling and romantic. It makes me think that I’m inhabiting a short story by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who writes so affectingly about first generation Indians acclimating to American life.
While the lakeside setting makes the restaurant sui generis, the food and service are what make it memorable. Our waiter was the epitome of graciousness as we ordered Chicken Ammwala (the “signature” dish of Chicken Tikka cooked with mango and spices) and Palak Paneer (cheese in a mild spinach sauce). But when we asked for Bhamia Koota (spiced lamb with okra in a tamarind infused onion tomato sauce), he couldn’t contain a knowing chuckle, and we think we understood why. Bhamia Koota is described on the menu as a “Calcutta Jewish Specialty,” and it seems to be some sort of signifier for secular Jews like myself that we are not just welcome here but that we belong. (I would bet a million rupees that one out of two first-time Jewish visitors orders that dish, and I will order it again because it was at once exotic and familiar—comfort food that wasn’t bland.)
Everyone is made to feel welcome at Bombay Bar & Grill: the menu has about a dozen vegetarian dishes and another dozen vegan dishes, so it’s one of those rare places where carnivores and herbivores can dine happily in harmony The Vivacious Vegan can make a meal out of a single Dosai, an astonishing 18-inch long rice-and-lentil crepe filled with spicy potatoes. The buttery nan (left) is so good that my companion asked if they would wrap up the small piece left in our basket to take home. And while Bombay Bar and Grill has all the quirky charms of a family-owned business, I learned from its website that it is actually part of the Fine Indian Dining Group, which also has restaurants in places like Westport and Greenwich, CT. I also learned that Martha Stewart has featured chefs from this restaurant group on her TV show. (Is it just me or does it seem to be Martha Stewart Month at Rural Intelligence?) We should thank Martha, because she got four recipes from the executive chef—for Bhindi Masala, Chicken Malai Kabab, Dosa, Onion Khulcha—which you can print out if you click here.
The restaurant has a buffet lunch and Sunday brunch, but I prefer to (over) order a la carte, because that way there are delectable leftovers to take home—and, yes, everything tasted even better the second day.
435 Laurel Street, Lee, MA
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday noon - 2:30; Sunday Brunch: noon - 3
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday & Sunday 5 - 9:30; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10