The Bistro story

Posted on Back of House Sep 2011 - by Tandoori Editor
The Bistro story

Chef-patron Bhuwan Bhatt’s Bombay Bistro opened just over a year ago. He talks to Tandoori about his creative flair.

The west London enclave of Acton isn’t exactly known for its culinary zeal. High street shops, the usual supermarket names and a host of fast food joints and cafés – some admittedly with aspirations – pepper the area. Sure, there are some half-decent pubs dotted around here and there, but there are no restaurants that one can define as “noteworthy”.
But then along came Bombay Bistro just over a year ago. Its aim, courtesy of chef-patron Bhuwan Bhatt, is not only to be the best Indian restaurant in Acton, but also to be one of the best restaurants in west London. Yes, the menu’s gone through some revisions since its launch, but anyone who knows their Indian restaurant food can tell that Bistro is no run of the mill place.
One only has to read off items such as haloumi tikka, basil and garlic chicken tikka, curcura crab, Scottish salmon tikka, sweet and sour duck and even beetroot and cheese kofta to realise that there is a certain level of innovation at play here.
“I was looking for a site of my own to set up,” says Bhatt, “and then an acquaintance of mine told me about the premises in Acton, which is how I ended up opening up this 40-seater establishment. It’s not exactly London’s West End, but as I call the shots, I was always determined that I would offer the kind of menu that would get people talking yet be familiar enough to ensure that they didn’t feel alienated.”
Coming up with a menu that’s just that little bit different, but also one which boasts quality cooking, has to be in the hands of a chef who really knows his stuff. Bhatt’s CV is certainly distinctive enough to match that high standard. He started his career with India’s Taj group of hotels and has since amassed a string of restaurants to his name that not only include UK ones, but also from the US – an example being Origin India in Las Vegas – and from around the rest of the world.
“The owner quite liked what I did with the menu at the restaurant in Vegas,” states Bhatt, “and I still have a connection to it. It’s a large, 120-seater place that’s always packed. It’s without a doubt the best Indian restaurant there. The standard of US-based Indian restaurants has never been quite up to par with that of the UK, but then that has a lot to do with the fact that there aren’t that many good Indian restaurant chefs there.”
Referring back to his eatery in Acton, Bhatt is realistic enough to admit that based out in suburbia, his restaurant is unlikely to achieve the kind of high-profile success accorded to high-end Indian establishments in central London. Instead, what he wants to do is to concentrate on his local customers and word of mouth. This has generally garnered him a good reputation.
“There are no hidden secrets to what I do,” notes Bhatt. “Nor do I have any gimmicks or any fancy décor. What I do have – and this is something that so many Indian chefs forget–is freshness of ingredients, dishes which combine imagination with tried and tested recipes, and flavours that are far from formulaic. What I want to give customers when they walk in here is an element of surprise and one that is so pleasant that they will keep coming for more.”
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