There’s no shortage of hidden finds on South Orange Blossom Trail. While such a declaration is open to interpretation, given the locale, my intent here is to emphasize the savory, not unsavory, enterprises on the much-maligned strip. Fact is, the Trail’s pervasive cultural pluralism yields a culinary gold mine, be it in the form of restaurants, food trucks or food marts. Case in point: Bombay Bazaar – one of a handful of grocery/butcher shops catering to the city’s burgeoning South Asian population. You can certainly spend a good portion of the afternoon studying the shelves of spices, snacks and oils, but what separates this Indian grocer from others in the vicinity is the grill situated in the back of the store. Next to the flat-screen TV broadcasting sermons, a menu board displays roughly two dozen items, mostly grilled meats, in photo form. The grill occupies a corner of the all-halal butchery, so you can bet that the beef, lamb or chicken you choose is unquestionably fresh. There’s really no waiting area, so we found ourselves biding the time strolling the aisles and listening to the boob-tube proselytizing, then chatting it up with the owner, a pleasant Bengali woman whose sister runs the grill. It eventually struck us that there were no tables in here either, but the owner pointed us to the picnic tables outside in front of Chalo’s Café, the Colombian joint next door.
And so, there we sat, lids flipped on our takeout boxes, inhaling the fumes of the sizzling meats. Having just read a report about how the sight of meat can have a calming effect on men, I’ll admit, these fleshy cuts had us on the verge of a feeding frenzy – any calming effects came after we rapaciously devoured all the red meat in front of us. Most notable were the sublimely charred trio of lamb chops ($5.99), a simultaneously melt-in-your-mouth and incisor-sharpening treat. We barely had time to admire the patina of grease on our respective fingers and faces before the minced beef kebabs ($4.99) beckoned us to tear into them. If there’s a kebab in this city softer and more pliant than this one, well, we’d tear into it too. The lamb kebabs ($4.99) weren’t as texturally plush, but their flavor exceeded their beefy counterparts. All meat plates were served with grilled pita bread and a simple salad of shredded lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
The lone meatless item on the menu – a thick-crusted samosa ($1) of potatoes and peas – was fine, but certainly not outstanding, even with a drizzle of green chutney. And the chicken samosas ($1.50) seemed a little odd, considering chicken samosas just aren’t as common, or popular, as beef ones in most Indian restaurants. The ones here, unfortunately, suffered from dryness.
Mainstream offerings like buffalo wings, burgers, fried chicken, gyros and fajitas all have a place on the menu board, and we wouldn’t be averse to sampling them given how good most of what we ordered was. But the lack of space and seating inside Bombay Bazaar is an issue, and could deter people from experiencing Bombay Grill’s delights. In the spirit of this block of the city, we’d love to see Bombay Grill establish Orlando’s first halal cart, and bring that grill outside.
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