By Larry Sheingold –

For anyone doubting a review’s influence on local dining choices – and sometimes the success or failure of a restaurant – I offer you Sacramento’s Bombay Bar and Grill, purveyor of Indian cuisine.

My wife and I go there often. We like the food, the sauces, the garlic basil naan. We like the servers – friendly, expert interpreters of an extensive menu. We also have wished more tables were occupied.

Bombay, the latest in a line of eateries at this address, easily is the most satisfying of the lot. Would Bombay last or leave like the others?

Then the Sacramento Bee’s most hard-to-please critic wrote a valentine to Bombay and, when we went back the following week, life at the Bombay had changed.

Same good food. Same friendly service. But not an empty seat. Laid back was replaced by lively. In a good way. New faces were being turned into regulars.

That must be music for the Bhandal brothers, who also own an Indian restaurant in Davis. They got their start in their family’s restaurant in Jalandhar in Northern Punjab state and the food at the mid-town location reflects their rich restaurant background

Now, to be honest, I am not sure what “real” northern Indian cooking should taste like. The Bombay menu items I like might be received by India natives much like I picture Italians at the Olive Garden or Mexicans eating enchiladas at Denny’s.

But I know what I like. Good sauces. Distinct flavors. Fresh tastes. Offered in an atmosphere that encourages you to come back and repeat the experience.

I have never had anything at Bombay I didn’t enjoy. Favorites include the lal mass (lamb in a red chili sauce), aloo gobi (spiced potatoes and cauliflower), tandoori chicken (marinated and presented on a sizzling platter) and chicken tikka masala (in a creamy sauce.)

Add some rice and a basket of naan and you have the recipe for fine dining, a successful restaurant and what I would expect will be more good reviews from the food critics.

Bombay Bar and Grill is located at 1315 21st Street in Sacramento. Phone number is (916) 441-7100. Web site is

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