Bombay Palace

7901 NE Glisan, 257-3509

Bombay Palace looks like the prototypical, downscale Indian restaurant; cheap red and gold décor, year-round Christmas lights, and Bollywood films playing on the big screen television in the corner. Considering this appearance, I had high hopes... hopes that were dashed as soon as I took a forkful of rice into my mouth. It was plain-old, gooey, white rice--not the anticipated fragrant, fluffy basmati rice crowned with saffron. To me, that's like being served a hot dog in a hamburger bun.

That said, Bombay Palace, while neglectful of some of the more basic tenets of South Asian cuisine, does some things very well. The Vegetable Samosas, for example, are crisp and greaseless (though I would have preferred a stronger dose of curry flavoring). Too often, these fried potato and pea turnovers are squishy and dripping with oil.

The Lamb Masala, on the other hand, is cooked to perfection, the tender chunks of meat falling right off the bones. The lamb, said to be imported from New Zealand, is bathed in a highly aromatic and spicy brown gravy that is gutsy and satisfying. The dish is also available in a boneless format, but if you're willing to slave for your supper, leave the bone in--it adds a musky, marrowy element to the cooking.

Missing from the menu is the ever-popular palak paneer, a velvety spinach and cheese dish, among my favorite things to order at an Indian restaurant. In substitute, I opted for the sautéed spinach entrée, which was too salty, though it displayed a complex spectrum of Eastern spices, including whole fennel seeds and cardamom pods, and came with scrumptious homemade roti, an Indian flatbread cooked to order in the tandoori oven.

Sure, this place has its shortcomings. Skip the lunch buffet--it's pretty weak. Instead, try and cajole the kitchen into preparing something fresh; otherwise, you'll suffer through mild overcooked curries, the aforementioned Minute Rice, and cardboard naans. But considering the alternatives (higher prices; mediocre curry carts; trips to Washington County for the real thing), Bombay Palace ain't bad.