The Restaurant: Bombay Talkie 

Bombay Talkie lives up to its name by projecting melodramatic Bollywood films over the bar in all their sari-flapping glory. The night I sampled its curries and spices, the “talkie” of the evening was Amrapali, and I struggled to follow the plot between musical numbers whilst picking which whimsically named cocktail I was going to order. My gut went with a drink named for “India’s Shakespeare” — but they were out of pineapple granita. I could have gone with a spiked Egg Cream or “Truth is Beauty,” but my “Ankur” pomegranate-and-tequila was like an Indian margarita. Much as I spent my cocktail break interpreting Amrapali , my date and I spent most of our meal rendering elaborate artistic interpretations of the giant painting over our table portraying a woman and her half-dressed lover. Is she leaving or coming? Is that idol Ganesha or Shiva?
Midway through ordering, I became worried I was getting too much food, but for future reference, order away. This is not the massive family style, pots-of-curry smorgasbord you may have experienced at other Indian restaurants. The portions aren’t dainty, but neither are they colossal. My go-to appetizer favorite, Papdi Chat (a.k.a. “Beggar’s Purse,” $5) was a delicate crispy shell filled with potatoes, chickpeas, and a tamarind and yogurt sauce that was surprisingly cold. It was outshone by the Kathi Rolls ($7), which lived up to its “school-time fare” moniker with succulent, warm mint lamb and cool vegetables wrapped in a flour dosa. The Clay Oven Chicken ($11) also delighted with its tender kebabs rubbed with masala spices. The Nigiri Coconut Kebabs ($13) was a more complex Southern Indian dish featuring lamb meatballs in a creamy sauce of coconut and mustard seeds. It was so spicy, though, that this fairly bold eater found herself scrambling for water, rice and the ever-temperate side of Cucumber Raitha, which went well with the sweet Tamarind Chutney (both $2).
Unlike the smoking-hot food, the restaurant’s ambience and service were a bit chillier. I fell victim to a ghastly draft sitting by the window and was also a bit put off by a group of people taking photos of the restaurant (and an unsuspecting dining public). Perhaps this caused some confusion since we were pushed around a bit before getting seated. ‘New restaurant’ syndrome may be to blame, as the friendly and enthusiastic staff also seemed a bit unfamiliar with the exotic dishes. Bombay Talkie has a bright future among the more vibrant West Village eateries, especially once the staff and the temperature warms up to the level of the dishes. •

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