Best Cheap Lunches of the Metro, Part II

After eating in the skyways for a couple months now, I finally, finally found something to recommend: The top-secret South Indian buffet that Bombay Bistro runs in the back-of-the- middle-of-nowhere Medical Arts Building.

Now, I say top-secret because:

  1. If you could be completely hidden and nowhere and still be in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, this is exactly where you’d be. You know where the rear skyway-entrance of the Barnes and Noble is? You know how there’s a tight escalator that goes down right there? Follow that escalator and head towards the Medical Arts Building, and you’ll find it. It’s the absolutely windowless Indian buffet right past all the empty stuff.
  2. The phone number doesn’t work.
  3. They have no take out menu, business card, or any identifying printed matter besides this blog post.
  4. It has almost nothing to do with the other, real Bombay Bistro; the nice man behind the counter explained to me that the real Bombay Bistro is North Indian, and has a different kitchen and different cooks. I’ve been to the other Bombay bistro and found nothing too special about it, so, this made me happy.
  5. It’s been open for about three months and I’m the only person I know who knows its there. I mean, besides the other two- dozen diners who were there.

So, what’s so great about it, besides being top-secret? The food was fresh, whole, and good. I’ve been sort of dismayed in the skyways to find how much food seems to be grease held together by chicken smithereens, but it’s not like that here. Okay, I realize that sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I really liked it. It runs $9.50, and for your sawbuck you get: pappadums, nan, salad, saffron or plain rice; a fruity, fresh coconut chutney; a really vibrant raita swimming with fresh carrots, mango pickles; big healthy pieces of tender tandoori chicken; chicken curry; mattar paneer (fresh cheese and peas); three more vegetable-based curries (South Indian food is the vegetarian-friendly one); fresh idliy (those flying saucer shaped rice pancakes); a fresh paper-thin dosa crêpe cooked and brought right to you; plus a fruit salad, a fountain soda, and a really wonderful dessert. No, seriously, a really wonderful dessert. Semiya payasam is sort of like rice pudding, but it’s made with very thin, short wheat noodles, raisins, milk, and fresh ground cardamom. Most of the versions I’ve ever had taste just kind of cheap and yucky—condensed-milk sweet and not much more than that—but the one I just had at Bombay Bistro South Indian was glorious comfort food: Simple, sweet, but not too sweet, and offering just enough raisins and cardamom to make it interesting.

My bill: $10.51 with tax. It’s the best thing I’ve found for fast, downtown skyway eating, save Brother’s Delicatessen, but we’ll talk about that another time.

Bombay Bistro South Indian

825 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Lunch only; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays

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