Z-List fanatics, both of them, already well familiar with this newest incarnation from Top Chef star Floyd Cardoz. But as with some other recent Z-List additions, I never got a chance to write a review on “Paowalla 2.0”. Paowalla’s blog post title would have read “Oops, I did it again”, after Cardoz essentially tried to recreate another fancy Tabla to satisfy his devotees. At BBB Cardoz is following his gut. And it works, a lot better than the “critics” leading to believe.
Classifying Bombay Bread Bar can be tricky. Indian chef, working with Indian ingredients must mean “Indian”, right? Much to the chagrin of theorists and traditionalists who bulk at the prices. Indian food should never ever cost this much, creatures of habit proclaim. And the likes of Cardoz, and other Asian chefs forfeit the right to get creative and charge premium for it. Not only hogwash, but on my last meal I tasted Italian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese flavors in this so called Indian.
As for the “critics” out there, the state of affairs of Google results in NYC these days is looking a little sad. Its dominated by marketing and Google skills, rather than knowledge. I dont want to name the names out there, but one of them rhymes with “Infatuation”. These are not seasoned reviewers. They read like Yelp reviews, and often sound like they dont really know what they are talking about. They lock in the first Google page nowadays, even prior to actual reviews, with a “Review soon to come” post. Their BBB review is yet another example of advice that is either wrong or unnecessary. Missing in this case, the most important aspect of the establishment, the chef, and his ability to invent and change.
The Upma Polenta, the first thing I tasted at BBB, showcases that Cardoz brilliance. Its Semolina based earthy goodness with mushrooms and hints of Coconut and Kokum. Like the most delicious grits you will ever eat. The creamy Cauliflower Makhani, not on the current menu, made great use of the Naan. I’m a sucker for a good garlic naan, and the flat naans here are exceptional. So is the chickpea chaat, a medley of green chickpeas sprinkled with toasted yellow chickpeas. And while you wont find much lamb presence in lamb curry, you will certainly taste it in all its glory.
Another “small plate” winner is the Three Chili Chicken Fry which got the sweetness of a General Tso’s chicken along with the intense heat of Szechuan. Follow the Chinese flavors with hints of middle eastern in the new Sea Bream. Served whole, but deboned and stuffed with a fantastic spicy red paste reminiscent of a mild Yemeni S’chug. It replaced another good one on the menu, a Banana leaf wrapped Halibut covered with yet another great paste. The Chicken Tikka, not Masala is another strong consideration with the larger plates.
Perhaps the only dish I didnt care for so much after three visits was the baked Eggplant which felt heavy and unbalanced next to other dishes. I found the rice dishes good but not necessary. The drinks can use a better hand, but I’ve only sampled two (sticking to beer). And how does the Indian Donut not generate Cronut like lines? Intense sweetness with its pistachio cream, candied pistachio, and rum syrup. Go!