[This venue is now closed]
Acton in West London isn’t a neighbourhood famed for anything much. It’s got good transport links. A short distance from the smart shops of Chiswick and the trendy river front of Richmond. The High Street is en route to either Ealing or Shepherds Bush. Till now Acton’s only claim to fame is that it was my first home.
Nothing much has changed in Acton. The buildings seem a lot smaller and the traffic worse. Not surprising since it’s more than half a century since I visited. No, nothing much has changed – apart from the arrival of a very good Indian bistro. The Bombay Bistro offers a quality of casual dining which is often lacking in your typical London high street. Great food in a comfortable environment. It’s not out to gentrify Acton but merely to help it evolve into a suburb offering a lot more than the banal “Indlish” curries of less adventurous establishments.
Bombay Bistro has one formidable asset and that’s its chef, Bhuwan Bhatt. A look at the menu will be your first introduction to his cuisine and it’s full of innovation. There is so much here that is contemporary and confident as well as being delicious. This restaurant is Bhuwan’s dream and he intends to make his mark in the most positive of fashions.
We embarked on our exploration with one of the most delightful starters I have had in a restaurant of any ethnic persuasion. Halloumi cheese stuffed with a sweet fruit filling, fried and served garnished with a mango and yoghurt sauce. It sounded so unlikely a combination that I was bound to try this on behalf of my dear readers. It’s exceptional. Halloumi isn’t a cheese indigenous to India; the obvious candidate would have been the ubiquitous paneer, appropriate for so many traditional recipes. But the choice of halloumi was courageous and masterful. A noteworthy dish in every regard.
Chicken Tikka is found on the menu of the majority of Indian restaurants and that shouldn’t be a surprise. A Tikka is, after all, just a cube of meat. These are more often presented in the “celebrated” masala sauce, but here chef Bhatt has Basil and Garlic Chicken Tikka as a starter. The juicy chicken is coated with a green marinade of fresh basil with a bite of garlic. Light and full of flavour.
Black Cod is becoming more popular in restaurants of every culinary hue, and Bombay Bistro has Black Cod Steak served on a bed of couscous, bejewelled with a fine dice of red and green peppers. Not a dish that one would expect in your regular curry house. Another indication that this is not your regular curry house. A marvellous presentation of moist fish and well-seasoned grains of couscous.
Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash is an exceptional vegetarian dish. The vegetables are complemented by the rich coconut milk perfumed with curry leaves. This and Dal Panchamitra (5 different lentils cooked with garlic and turmeric), along with some naan bread or rice, would make a delicious vegetarian meal. Both dishes had good flavour notes and agreeable texture.
There is a signature dessert at Bombay Bistro. That isn’t usual for UK Indian restaurants. There are seldom any surprises in the sweet department but chef Bhatt has come up with a delightfully original take on Halwa. You would all have tried the original – tempting and sweet and made from carrots. It’s a favourite with me, but Bhuwan presents his guests with Beetroot Halwa and it works! The vegetables retain their attractive deep red colour, the flavour is rich, the texture is moist and light, and it’s a must-try.
Bombay Bistro is great value for money. The quality of food is marvellous and the menu is inspired. Please do visit. Chef Bhuwan Bhatt deserves to have a successful restaurant filled with diners who appreciate thoughtful presentation of fresh ingredients.
47 High Street, Acton, London W3 6ND
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018