For everyone out there who likes to have drinks, dinner, and dessert all on the same block, this post is for you.
Last night I joined up with Andy and Stacilyn for a two block Tour de Chelsea. We started for a quick drink at Jake’s Saloon on 23rd and 9th. It was quiet, full of wood paneling, and just what the doctor ordered. The actually Irish bartender poured a perfect pint of Guinness, which isn’t an easy find in the isle of Manhattan. (I think I just quoted Death Cab… Deal with it.)
Once sufficiently chilled out, we set off for the main attraction. After reading about Bombay Talkie on Serious Eats, I was left with three words looping endlessly in my brain. Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. And on our one block jaunt to the restaurant, there wasn’t time for too many saliva-inducing repetitions. While most places would seem toasty compared to the 20 degree winter night, when entering Bombay Talkie we were immediately struck by the restaurant’s warmth that was only partly due to the heating system.
The decor was dark and cozy. Tall booths against the etched wood wall allow for privacy, while a long banquet table on the other side would be perfect for a small party. There was also a bar area playing Bollywood films against a neon sign listing signature cocktails like “Truth is Beauty, “A New Phase of Life,” and “Love Story.” Or maybe they were just listing Taylor Swift songs… Regardless, romantic, serene, and inviting are all words that would fit the bill there.
But enough of that. Let’s talk about the food. Known (by me and maybe other people) for their homemade naan, we ordered the cilantro/red chili flake and onion/sesame seed options. To go with it, we got the cucumber raita, and the cool cucumber yogurt was the perfect balance to the spice of the bread. You’re gonna notice aside from Chelsea, the other theme for the night was carbs. And speaking of carbs, once we demolished the naan, it was time for the Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. (Which, FYI, is actually called Pulao)
To go along with the Pulao, we got the Biryani, the Baigan Bharta, and the Sukhi Harabara Beans. Each contained a palate boggling burst of flavor that was beyond comprehension and explanation. The dishes’ flavors were even more complex than their names. I feel like despite eating Indian food countless times, last night was the first time I ate Indian food. The combination of spices, texture, and freshness caused a blanket of silence to engulf the table. And believe me, the three of us have NEVER been at a loss for words. The green beans tasted like they had just come from the garden, the eggplant mixture had hints of the Middle Eastern food my dad raised me on, and while I didn’t try the Biryani (stupid vegetarianism), there wasn’t one speck of it left, so I guess it was alright.
The meal ended and we were full. Full enough for the following exchange:
“Stacilyn: I never want to eat again, which would be bad cause I weigh 95 pounds…
Andy: My cankles weigh 95 pounds.”
So of course from there we took a walk across the street to Billy’s Bakery. The 50 steps totally counted as enough exercise to justify the yellow daisy/chocolate buttercream cupcake that followed. Simple, sweet, delicious. Billy’s always delivers.
Next time you’re hanging out on 9th bt 21st and 23rd, I urge you to go to any of these three places. But if you have to choose just one, go to Bombay Talkie. Stat. And then get a cupcake while you’re at it… And then maybe a beer too… I’m not so good at this whole restraint thing.