UPDATE: The place is closed. And we never did return. But it looks like Kardenni is still alive and making magic, so that’s a plus.
Are you ready for the ultimate in Indian food and entertainment? You’d better be. Strap yourselves in my friends, and hold on tight, because this review features…
Ohhh you weren’t expecting that, were you? Or did you catch it before you started reading the review due to its boldness, CAPS, and immense size? Well, sorry about that. Maybe it’ll teach you a lesson about reading too far ahead of where you’re at. (Stop reading the last page first! You ruin the whole book!!)
Anyway, prepare yourself for Indian delicacies, unique drinks, old and new Bollywood hits, and yes, even a bit of magic. The Bollywood Cafe offers all this in a super-hip lounge type outfit, classy enough to make you cooler just by proximity. I was invited by the owner to come and try the place out on them. And that I did.
I went with a couple friends on a Friday evening, and found the place to be packed. Utterly packed. We had to wait a while to get a table (we could have sat outside, where they have their movies projected onto a huge screen and plenty of seating, but we went with the inside due to the temperature outdoors). The inside was really cool looking, with a counter at which you can order to go, a television playing Indian music videos, and a lot of Bollywood-inspired art on the walls. While we waited, we were greeted by our server who took some drink orders, and were then ambushed by this fellow:
Awww yeah it’s magic time! Brought to you by the glorious Kardenni. “Magic, mind and marvel.” Indeed. He was so kind as to show us some wacky card tricks, pull a scarf out of my sleeve, and even poke a hole in my sweater! Amazing! He was entertaining, and it was an intense introduction to the restaurant. Plus he has a sweet little beardy thing. Score.
The drinks we ordered soon popped up, looking like grown up drinks, but in all actuality being fun-for-all-ages. They were fresh lime sodas, made there. You can order them either sweet or salty (I went with sweet), and it’s nice to have the option. They were very refreshing and quite good, though it was not nearly as sweet as I was expecting. In fact, it tasted pretty salty. I would not have liked the salty version, but that’s just me personally.
After waiting a bit, we finally got our table, which was a quite comfortable booth situation. Always get a booth. By this point we had already put in our orders, and just had to wait for everything to be brought out to us. Our appetizers were numerous and varied.
They have wings! WINGS!!!! Shh okay okay don’t get too excited. Yeah so I had to get the wings. There were multiple levels of heat, and I really wanted to get the super-hot ones, but my friends were kind of pansies, and had horror stories about really hot Indian food, so we went a step down (or two, I can’t quite remember). They turned out to be really delicious, though. The sauce was not really spicy at all; in fact, it was more sweet than anything else. But they were totally addictive. BEST WINGS THIS YEAR (out of theirs and Datz’s). Oh and they’re called “Spicy Wings 95″, a name I can’t make heads or tails of. Thoughts on that?
The quick fried somosas were excellent, and looked beautiful. Look at that presentation! LOOK AT IT! Very nice. They are basically like empanadas, but they are flakier and triangular. And Indian. You could get them with veggies, potato, or beef. We went with beef. Simple and delicious. And fried.
I was most excited about the chilli paneer fingers, which were strips of paneer (a soft indian cheese) tossed in a jalapeño batter and fried. You are able to select from a range of spiciness, and I was able to get this one as spicy as they made it. YES. Unfortunately, I was let down by the spice. In fact, I couldn’t detect any spice at all. Lame. But it was still good, basically large cheese sticks. And it was served with a really good sauce, some sort of pink concoction, that made every bite awesome. So it turned out to be a win.
As for their entrees, the Bollywood Cafe has a lot of options that go well beyond traditional Indian food. Their menu features an Indo-fusion section, which combines tastes from around the world with an Indian spin (burgers, tacos, pizza and more). There’s also a large section called “Urbanindian”, featuring mostly grilled items. I was initially drawn to this page (specifically the grill tikka and the tandoori chicken platters), but I asked for a recommendation, and our server suggested the traditional hyderabadi biryani with goat. So that’s what I got.
This thing came out, and it was intense. It has a huge presence, both in size and aroma. It smelled strongly of spices. I had ordered it the spiciest they made it, but at this point I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of heat. And rightly so; I was not met with any huge burn. It did have a kick to it, a very slow burn that built as you ate, but it was nothing most people couldn’t handle. The rice was delicious and flavorful. It had strong notes of cloves, maybe cumin, very aromatic flavors that were almost more of a scent than a taste. It was garnished with almonds, which was a nice touch, but the picture showed raisins or some similar dried fruit, not present in the meal, that I’d really like to have had. The meat was incredible, exquisitely seasoned, tender, and cooked to perfection. It reminded me a lot of the Jerk Hut’s jerk pork. A great meal.
I ended my meal with Masala Chai Tea, a hot tea blended with milk and seasonings. It was a really nice end to the meal on that cold night, though I had trouble getting it to be as sweet as I wanted (I have a sweet tooth, okay?).
All in all, this was a great experience, even without seeing a movie (I know I know I didn’t really experience the whole thing). I imagine the movie would just add that much more to it overall. The food was great, but really this place is all about entertainment and atmosphere. The service was impeccable (friendly, funny, and knowledgeable), possibly the best service I’ve received since starting this blog. And the owner was very nice, as well as attentive and genuinely concerned to see that we, and the other guests, had a good time. He went to all the tables and had conversations with the customers, talked to us for a while, and even told a joke. It was precisely what you would hope for in a dining experience. Highly recommended. We will return.