For many of us, Mayfair is an area of London where hopes faded. Where a roll of the dice sent you into bankruptcy. An area that would see you hand over all of your hard earned money to your own flesh and blood. Mayfair didn’t get to be down the spendy end of the Monopoly board for no reason. This is an area that’s always been known for its wealth and, as such, you tend to think that most of the restaurants in the area will have a certain type of food, made for a certain type of person. By that type of food we mean ‘fancy’ and by that that type of person we mean ‘loaded’. So, when we first turned off Regent Street to go to Bombay Bustle, we were sort of expecting a fancy Indian affair with prices to match. But that’s not what we got.
Sure Bombay Bustle may be a restaurant in Mayfair, but it doesn’t adhere to those Mayfair stereotypes. This is a place that serves food for anyone and everyone (providing they’ve enjoyed some style of Indian cuisine in the past, of course). The starters are made for sharing. This works when they’re just fine, like with the chicken wings, but isn’t so practical with the rarah keema pao, or the achari lamb chops, that are really good. You’re going to need to eat the entire portion yourself. As for the keema pao, it’s a case of piling as much of this lamb mince onto a buttery bun as gravity allows. These aren’t things you politely let someone else finish. No, these fly in the face of British etiquette. Other dishes require a little more self-control, because they’re so moreish. Take the yellow coloured chicken curry, or the lamb biriyani, both of which taste better the longer they sit on the table. They’re a bit like replying to an annoying work email: much better when you don’t go for it immediately.
Inevitably, there there are elements of Mayfair-ness in Bombay Bustle. For one thing, the room - based on a Mumbai train carriage - is all silver detailing and plush fabrics. At times it can feel a little Hercule Poirot and you begin to wonder why you aren’t in a linen suit pondering a non-existent murder. But, with Prince Harry’s old local Mahiki a ten minute walk away, this was never going to be a standard class train carriage was it? That said, it isn’t as upscale an experience as Gymkhana is.
This vibe will work better for some people than others but, ultimately, once you’re sitting down this is no different in service to any other ‘nice’ restaurant in the West End. And that’s why this is a really good (and tasty) restaurant for all types of people. You can come here for a hearty work lunch or a big birthday dinner with friends using the vast downstairs area. Price-wise it’s also elevated but, to be honest, a curry night is rarely cheap. Given where it is and the quality of what’s on offer we think it’s pretty fair. Especially for Mayfair.
There are very few foodstuffs that aren’t improved by going mini. These mini poppadoms prove that rule.
Malabar Chicken Wings
You get a healthy portion of these wings but they’re a bit bog standard.
Achari Lamb Chop
The sign of an excellent tandoor lamb chop is the disappointment you feel when you realise you’re sharing them. If you don’t have that, then they’re not good enough. The ones here definitely are.
Rarah Keema Pao
This is spicy lamb mince that you load onto little buttery buns and try not to eat in one bite. It’s really good.
Dum Nalli Biryani
The lamb in this biryani is excellent and once it cools down a bit, there are a load of flavours going on. A party in your mouth.
Bohri Chicken Curry
Curry 101. Very moreish. A bit tame but a perfect bread mopper.
Masala Dosa Sambhar
This is listed under ‘accompaniments’, which is a wonderful understatement for something as long as your arm and much much tastier than it.
Buttery black lentils so smooth you wanna lie down in them. Another tasty bread mopper.
Nicely buttery. The perfect vehicle for more saucy, spiced things.
The perfect way to finish off a spice heavy meal. Very refreshing.