Wicket food

The decor at Bombay Cricket Club seems slightly stark and cold--bare wood floors, flounces over bare windows the only softening touch (big Indian rugs would make it cozier), but the service is so helpful and the food gives such a glow that the whole place seems comfy by meal's end.

One of the endearing features of Bombay Cricket Club is that the front of the menu attempts--in a few short paragraphs--to teach you the rudiments of cricket, a game more complicated than life itself. But the most endearing thing about Bombay Cricket Club is that everything on the menu is good, including many dishes not on the standard Dallas-Indian-restaurant menu. (One of my favorite memories is a birthday celebration at Bombay where we ordered the sabat bakra--a whole roast baby lamb. Now that's party food.)

Because I was eating with two gastronomically adventurous teenagers, I ordered the "kapil dav special," a splendid, rajah-sized feast designed for two that could serve four, if two weren't teenagers, including as many platters of perfumey basmati rice as needed to augment the spicy stews and meats.

We started with peppery pappadoms and a pair of soups. Mulligatawny (definitely the coolest soup name in the world) was supposedly invented by Indian cooks for the English. It's the Indian equivalent of the sure cure--chicken soup--souped up with lentils, spices, and curry. It was good, but more interesting was the madras soup--tomato broth with a tinge of coconut. Like many Indian foods, these soups rely as much on aroma as flavor or appearance.

Bombay Cricket Club is under the same ownership as India Palace, Dallas' other good Indian restaurant. There are the same tandoori specialties--our dinner included mercurochrome-red tandoori chicken, slashed to the bone and tenderized in a yogurt marinade, and spicy tandoori shrimp--but the menu stretches a little further.

Seekh kabob--ground meat kabobs--and a complex lamb curry required another plate of basmati. Saag paneer--creamed spinach by another name--filled the green category. There's a wonderful range of tandoor-baked breads; this time, we tried the kashmiri naan, stuffed with bits of chicken.

There's also a whole section of the menu called "nouvelle Indian cuisine," an unfairly vague label for foods cooked in the kadhai, or Indian wok. Chicken tikka bhuna, served in a kadhai, was a fiery stew of tender meat, chili peppers, and onions. Most Indian food is spicy and complicated, but not hot to a Texan's single-minded, jalapeo-defined palate--chicken tikka bhuna was hot by anyone's definition. There's mango lassi for those who like milk shakes for dessert; even those who don't will find them appealing after eating the bhuna.

I drive by the Bombay Cricket Club on Maple often and I've been worried about it, because the parking lot never looks full and there's more and more dining competition in this neighborhood. Just a few doors towards McKinney is the ultrashiny Fog City Diner; a few steps in the other direction is the ultra-ultra Hotel St. Germain, as well as Old Warsaw and Maple Avenue Cafe; Americana and Routh Street Brewery are a block over. Bombay Cricket Club--which serves the best Indian food in the city--is still my favorite in the area.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Bombay Cricket Club, 2508 Maple Ave., 871-1333. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday noon-3 p.m; for dinner Sunday-Thursday 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.

Bombay Cricket Club:
Chicken Tikka Bhuna $12.95
Mulligatawny Muglai Soup $2.50
Rogan Josh $12.95
Kashmiri Naan $2.50


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