Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
You know how it is, just when you think the world has coughed up the last bunch of ‘celebrities’ larking about for our amusement,...

You know how it is, just when you think the world has coughed up the last bunch of ‘celebrities’ larking about for our amusement, the apparently bottomless barrel is scraped for more. January is the month of Celebrity Big Brother and Cat has outed herself as a fan of this smorgasbord of gurning zelebrities. Go Dane Bowers!

Bindi bhagee

This seemingly off-topic introduction to the Bombay Palace is more pertinent than would at first appear. Obviously M and C would not be rude enough to compare any eatery or its food to gristly nonentity Alex Reid, for example. But Ryde does seem to be overwhelmed with Asian restaurants; ten at the last count, each with its own personality and vying for your attention. Can the town stomach another venue in this food genre? Or will one of them get voted off?

At the height of the snow, Matt and Cat slipped along to the Bombay Palace’s opening night. The place was surprisingly full, given the state of the roads, but there was a table for two still available. Peeling off mittens, scarves and winter coats, M and C settled in, enjoying the convivial atmosphere that snowbound Britain induced in its population. There was lots of friendly eye-contact with fellow patrons and the staff were particularly attentive. However, halfway through their poppadums, the fire alarm went off. After about ten minutes of this pulsating din, despite the reassurances of the staff, M and C left promising to return soon.

It wasn’t long before the reviewing duo made good on their promise. The waiters greeted them enthusiastically, appearing to remember them from their earlier visit. Perhaps it was Cat’s distinctive hat that jogged their memories? This time Matt and Cat had the choice of tables as it was early on a mid-week evening. As M and C were positioned under a heater, the waiter thoughtfully cranked it up to a cardigan-shedding 24°C. After she had peeled off coat and cardi Cat requested that the heater be turned down to a more ambient and less blustery 19°C and her wish was granted.

Lamb balti

M and C flicked through the menu, although to be honest they gave it only a cursory glance as it had had their full attention on their previous visit. There was a good selection of starters including king prawn butterfly and calamari pathoni, the first time that M and C had ever seen squid on an Indian restaurant menu. For the main course, there was also a fine and well-signposted selection of house specialities, all described in choice-enabling detail with a hotness rating.

However, those of you that like traditional Indian food will also find all the usual suspects. Cat falls into this camp and she chose chicken khorma – not the most adventurous of selections but a good standard for the chilli-shy. Matthew was more measured in his deliberations, pondering the merits of gosht xacuti – a coconut-based Goan delicacy made with three masalas – before plumping for lamb balti.

A brace of poppadums, plus chutneys, was delivered along with a pint of draught Cobra for Matt and tap water for The Cat. As they crunched their way thought the flattest of breads, they looked out of the window across to the Canoe Lake. As many readers will recall, the Palace’s narrow plot was home to the thatched Beijing Palace which sadly succumbed to fire one autumn. Although the phoenix-like Bombay Palace no longer has a thatch, the rebuild has incorporated some well-positioned French doors; the summer will hopefully see them open, simulating a terrace-style eatery.

Pulled back from their collective daydream about the impending summer, Matt and Cat faced their main courses. With the usual finesse, plate-warmers were placed on the table, followed by the dinners themselves. Cat’s khorma arrived in a vast hip-bath of a dish; a very generous portion. The lamb balti and okra bhagee came alongside with a naan and a plate of pillau rice sprinkled with multi-coloured grains.

It was certainly a very attractive selection of dishes, with fresh coriander wilted over the lamb and okra. Perky tomatoes rose out of the mix, like red-finned sharks. It all looked splendid and was obviously constructed from the freshest of ingredients. The naan bread was doughy and soft and was excellent for mopping up the currys’ spicy juices.

The lamb balti was impressive – the substantial chunks of tender lamb were not overwhelmed by the zingy sauce, and the fresh chunks of onion and green pepper gave it real texture and depth. Cat’s khorma was creamy without being cloying. It was such an impressive portion, there was easily enough for two Cat-sized meals. However, there was no chance for a Catty-bag as Matt, having polished off his supper with gusto, hoovered up the remains of the side dish and Cat’s curry.

The Bombay palace is in an unusual location, and is clearly going for the more civilised end of the market: no blaring televisions and laminate floors here. Matt and Cat had an excellent feast, served with charm. The only disappointment was that M and C had forgotten their 25% off voucher – to be found in the takeaway menu, credit-crunchers – but that just means that they’ll have to make a repeat visit. So, out of the ten Asian restaurants in Ryde, who stays? You decide!

  • Peter says:

    Had a takeaway. Was perfectly fine, although some things seemed ‘bought’ in. When getting an Indian takeaway I don’t expect frozen samosas that have been reheated. Maybe I am being too picky, and have been spoilt by the quality from Monsoon? Nevertheless, it was reasonably priced, and portions were fine. If you want a reasonable ‘budget’ curry head over to the Palace, but if you want something more special head over to Monsoon.

  • Steve Williams says:

    The chinese dragons outside are somewhat confusing for an Indian Restaurant?

    Late at night I used to watch an army of 8+ staff walk the length of Ryde seafront from The Bombay Palace to (one assumes) other live in accommodation in Union Street or close by. The staff probably work in each others restaurants.

    This has now dwindled to virtually zero. The dwindling wait and kitchen staff numbers probably reflect the new customer base so I can relate to what Paul had written.

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    Three of us went to the Bombay Palace for Christmas Dinner. The food was very nice but, as Graham states, the service was snail’s pace. Considering there were only 3 of us and a couple at another table and it was a fixed menu, I couldn’t understand why it took so long. About 20 mins for starters and 40 mins for mains. I was thinking, perhaps he orders it from the Tandoori in the High Street and reheats it! I don’t know how he would cope if the restaurant was full plus telephone orders.

    He kept us talking endlessly about his mate in London, his family,his ambitions etc which was becoming a bit boring. I don’t know how he keeps going because there doesn’t seem to be enough customers to cover his overheads.

  • Graham - Ryde says:

    We had a Sunday evening buffet tonight – 2nd table to be occupied.
    Excellent food, but the service was so S L O W.

    The main man seemed more interested in talking about himself and enthusing about his family, as well taking photos of a young person nearby “for his wallpaper”.

    We ordered the meal and after 20mins or so the starter was served.
    Just under an hour later we saw our main course, after a lot of prompting to the staff. At one stage we were asked if we had ordered, then “were we ready for our main course yet?”

    A shame as had the service been better, we would have voted the evening “10 out of 10”
    Good food, nice surroundings, but the staff need a good man at the top to keep things running smoothly.

  • Paul says:

    Dropped by for the Sunday buffet with the wife and kids and had a cracking meal, We usually order takeaway’s and have not been disappointed so to go in for a buffet was a nice change.
    The selection of food was very good with 3 different starters 3 rice dishes and if i recall 7 main dishes and nan bread.
    All the food was well prepared and very tasty and not a disappointed comment was to be heard around the table just the sound of contentment.
    The restaurant itself is nicely decorated very clean and fresh which was a pleasure to dine in with low key Indian music playing in the back ground also the views of the swan lake and the sea made a nice change from some other places i have eaten in where you get a brick wall or traffic to look at.
    The waiter was very attentive well presented and full of smiles
    All in all a great afternoon was had here and one we shall be returning to again soon

  • Bushy says:

    Potentially inclement weather on Friday caused us to stay in and take advantage of the Bombay Palace’s recently announced free delivery service. We were very impressed: prompt delivery, piping hot food, tasting very fresh. And the portions were very generous, especially the “side” orders of vegetables, which were as much as a standard main in many restaurants. The left-overs will suffice for at least another meal for one!

  • Bombay Palace says:

    We would like you to come please and try us out as we have reopened and is under new management.

    Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment. We’ve been keeping a weather eye on the Bombay Palace, and have already eaten there since it re-opened. We think our review is pretty favourable and still about right for the experience we had, so are unlikely to change it in the near future. We have though taken down the comments about the previous establishment, as they’re no longer relevant, and all over a year old anyway. Best wishes, M&C

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