Last night just checked out Bombay Bistro on S. Lamar http://www.bombay-bistro.com/ and what an amazing discovery. There's two newish places places in Austin that have amazed me with their heavy use of spice--the other is New India Cuisine (now moved to the old Richard Jones BBQ location near S. Congress & Oltorf). Bombay Bistro is the most upscale Indian restaurant I've been to in Austin, and reminiscent of the best places in Houston. The curries are rich and complex, loaded with spices that taste like they were roasted and ground that day (still, only a handful of restaurants in Austin do that--New India is another--Fonda San Miguel has been doing that for decades). If you've had home cooked meals made by Indians, or by caterers of the cuisine who know what they are doing, you'll notice this flavor right away. My friend Terry had a grilled lamb dish (which looked like fajitas in presentation!)--the lamb was tender & falling apart, yet had a nice char, but clearly the meat had been marinated in serious spices. One surprise spice was clove--that might sound strange to a Westerner, but man does this ever work well in this context.
Otherwise, the rest of the entrees and appetizers were either naan (all fantastic, of course, fluffy yet crisp) or curries. The Kyberi Ghost (a lamb curry) and the Mutton Curry were almost identical--both very rich in spices (tasting of Garam Masala) supporting these heavy meats, and bolstered by carmelized onion. My friend Kevin had the inspired idea to get the Curry Mussels appetizer--I've never had mussels in an Indian context--and a bit oddball at a place that specializes in inland North Indian cuisine, but no matter. This curry was rich brown and light green melange of spices, garlic and ginger--utterly heavenly.
But without a doubt the star of the evening was the Shrimp Curry my friend Lisa ordered, a Coconut based Curry, of bright orange hue. The waiter asked Lisa how hot she wanted it--she asked for 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. She and I both agreed it seemed more like a 6, but then again, we are rather fearless when it comes to that kind of spiciness. Later it was pointed out that more heat might have interfered with the flavor of this rich curry.
I honestly never think about drinking alcohol with Indian cuisine, but a pairing with a French Syrah/Grenache blend made perfect sense, given the intensely spicy curries and heavy meats.
Bombay Bistro does lunchtime buffets that must be amazing--we were there for dinner, entree average price about $15.
I'm want to make this clear that I'm speaking of the location at Brodie Oaks, 4200 S. Lamar, but the Chowhound software is trying to force me into saying that I'm talking about the one in WAY North Austin (which is practically in Williamson County). I haven't been to that one, though I'm sure it must be good too