Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Khana Bombay Cafe - Headingley, Leeds


Khana Bombay popped up in Headingley some time at the beginning of the year, they had an opening party where they invited the local bloggers and then promoted themselves by offering 50% off food. I hadn't managed to find the time to benefit from the 50% and so when my housemate was struggling to find somewhere 'new' (to her) to go for her birthday I suggested a trip in to Headingley rather than Leeds city centre (again).


My expectations for the Cat's Pjs had fallen short, to cut to the chase I had expected their street food concept to be Bundo-like and it wasn't. I've heard a few people since say they 'think' they did it wrong... whereas some like the bigger dishes. There appears to be some confusion... anyway was Khana Bombay going to give them a run for their money? They're situated in the old cinema on North Lane and have a big space to play with in a prime location next to some of the more popular bars in Headingley.


We arrived a little early but as soon as the rest of our group arrived we were led upstairs to a large table for nine. The place was empty upstairs and I presumed we had been placed up there as they were expecting downstairs to get full, it was a Saturday evening after all.

Drinks were taken and the waitress disappeared off to place the order. Whilst we mulled over the menus someone decided it would probably be a good idea to order some poppadoms to ward off the hunger until our starters and main courses arrived. Perhaps something that could be offered by the waiting staff when taking our drinks? 

As suggested by the order of my pictures the poppadoms and chutneys arrived before my drink did. A few others had their drinks so we enquired in to the whereabouts of ours to which we were abruptly told that they were on their way. This I could understand for myself as I had ordered a cocktail but D had ordered a simple Diet Coke of which there were already several on the table, with this mentioned to the waitress she again repeated it was on it's way.... a few minutes later she returned to advise that they were all out of Diet Coke, D replied that a regular Coke would be fine. 

The poppadoms were good by the way, I particularly like the way they came in smaller pieces rather than everyone having to finger them and snap them to get a dip of the chutney or balance a large poppadom on a small plate. 



Eventually my cocktail arrived, the waitress came to me with shaky hands and I relieved her of it before I had a cocktail sodden lap. It was at this point she delivered a Diet Coke to D too advising they hadn't run out after all. 

My mango daiquiri was littered with desiccated coconut around the rim of the glass and inside the glass, not quite as neat as the pistachio trim at Banyan. The cocktail was incredibly sweet and the rum ever present, it wasn't quite as refreshing as I was hoping it to be. 

D and I decided to order two starters between us and share. My choice was the paneer kathi roll. Starters didn't go to plan in that only half of our table had theirs, after 5 minutes or so of waiting we had to dig in for fear of it going cold before the rest of the table received theirs. We were told they would be brought out when they were ready. 


Paneer Kathi Roll

I slowly made my way through my half of my starter almost finishing it when D's arrived. I then had to wait for D to eat his half of his Aloo Tikki. My starter was of fair quality, it wasn't the best thing I've ever eaten as it was essentially just paneer and naan bread with a little marinade. 

D's too was pleasant enough but again not a game changer, I myself found it to be quite stodgy and dry.

Aloo Tikki
K (my housemate who's birthday it was) ordered Dahi Bhalla, fried urdal dumplings in a yogurt and tamarind. Something I nearly ordered myself until I noted that it was served cold and then thought better of it. Unfortunately K hadn't noted that and was surprised by the dish, she said it wasn't that she didn't like it, it was just a bit weird.

Dahi Bhalla

We had the same fiasco we had with the starters not all arriving at the same time with the mains but with added dramas. 

My curry turned up but once again D's dish was missing. A waiter (who was helping our waitress carry all the dishes up the stairs) tried to give D a chicken and spinach dish, funnily enough D and I had both ordered the same curry the Lamb Desi Karahi and this definitely wasn't a tomato and lamb based dish before him. When this was brought to the waitresses attention she quickly snatched it away and said 'this isn't lamb' and frowned at her colleague. She then looked at the remaining dishes on her tray and said none of them were lamb and D's would be on it's way. 

My housemate's friend was sat beside, her and her partner had ordered the same too (aren't we all just peas in a pod) a biriyani. Again, hers was served but her partners was missing, he was giving some rice that he ordered (not realising biriyani came with rice - perhaps something the waitress could have advised on at ordering) and his naan bread. Once again, he was told his would be on it's way when ready. 

I, in the end ate his rice as my rice was missing (it was on it's way) and I wasn't really prepared to eat my curry without any rice. I offered up my own if he still wanted it when it arrived.


After 10 minutes or so and half of our table not having anything to eat or accompany their dishes we made enquiries in to their whereabouts and she said they had 'gone missing' and that she would put a new order in for them to come as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile at the other end of the table another drama was unfolding. A vegetarian of the group had ordered paneer curry, when it was placed before her she queried with the waitress whether it was her dish, she replied yes, she asked if it was paneer, she replied yes. It was then pointed out to her it wasn't paneer but chicken to which the waitress responded "do you want another one then?"... well yes she's vegetarian. The waitress took away the dish and then proceeded to slam the dish next to the till and put in another order to the kitchen. We were astonished. So unbelievably rude! 



D's dish finally arrived without apology and it looked completely different to my own. Funny that since we had ordered the same dish. By this point I was picking at my dish not really enjoying it or the whole experience. My lamb was dry, salty and the sauce was overcooked beyond recognition. D, being the gentleman he is, offered up his own. I refused but tried a bit, the tomato was tart and the spices were not properly infused, I think they had cooked this from scratch in 10 minutes not giving it any time to develop full flavour. 

Finally everyone had their meals and sides. The rice which had appeared before the mains had gone cold and hard by this point. 

The final fiasco... the bill. 

When the bill arrived all of our missing dishes had been added to the bill again, despite them not appearing the first time around. It took around 3 or 4 attempts for this to be communicated and the bill corrected. Who knows if it was correct by the end of it we were all just dying to get out there. 

Surprisingly as we left the restaurant downstairs was almost empty and we were left baffled as to why we were placed upstairs, where no one else came to dine. Surely a group (not too rowdy) would help liven the place up a little, create a little ambiance and entice customers in who would see people inside enjoying (not really) a meal through their big glass windows. 

I think it's fair to say I won't be returning to Khana Bombay Cafe. 

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