As a culinary palindrome, naan tastes the same backward as it does forward, like the bananab or a Toyota. Take a bite in every direction with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of upscale Indian cuisine and wine at Bombay Talkie in Chelsea.
Bombay Talkie entices eaters with a menu inspired by South India's roadside cafés, cataloging inventive applications of mustard seed, tamarind, and cinnamon. Point pupils at the Street Bites menu to find tasteful tooth targets such as papdi chat, a synthesis of potatoes and chickpeas swimming in a tamarind and yogurt sauce inside crispy flour pouches ($6), or a Frankie roll, a crispy pastry dough that encases seasoned chicken and vegetables and cruises to the table with an escort of two chutneys ($8). Vacant stomach apartments also can be occupied by tender tenants on the From The Roadside menu, which sports selections such as succulent lamb chops marinated in ginger, garlic, and yogurt and served with a cilantro-mint sauce ($25), as well as boneless pork vindaloo spritzed in a sweet and sour sauce ($16). A small tight-knit squad of desserts, including coconut tapioca ($7) and gulab jamon ($7), rescues taste buds from the clutches of sweet postprandial cravings.
Bombay Talkie’s well-edited wine list and assortment of beers—which includes two Indian brews—keep gullets hydrated throughout the gastrotivities, and the restaurant also brews teas ($5) and 10 specialty coffees ($5–$6) to keep chilly tonsils from donning itchy cardigans. Exposed brick and Bollywood-inspired canvases mark the interior, helping to create a sleek aesthetic to complement the chic eats.
With Bombay Talkie, Sunitha Ramaiah envisions a restaurant whose cuisine reflects her own life experiences, which include a childhood in southern India and adulthood in the cultural mélange of New York City. Her chefs, she says, serve "the food of my childhood, the food of everyday India," basing their menu on recipes from Indian roadside cafés and using fragrant blends of fenugreek, tamarind, and cloves, which characterize meals from the country's southern regions. Bombay Talkie sets itself apart from tradition, however, by serving dishes in a tapas style, with large entrees minimized in favor of smaller, well-composed plates of vibrant cuisine. Lemon-tinged rice balances red swaths of tandoori chicken, and the lamb chops' cilantro-mint sauce lends a splash of color more vibrant than Willy Wonka’s contact lenses.
The gallery-white walls and exposed brickwork of Bombay Talkie's dining room feature paintings of Bollywood film scenes, alluding to India's ubiquitous displays of movie billboards. Carved from a single piece of teak, a stool-lined communal table dominates one entire side of the dining room, with the rest of the space featuring a similarly earth-tone collection of custom-designed leather booths.:m]]