Tucked inside the Prince Conti Hotel, the swank Bombay Club feels worlds away from the bustling streets of the French Quarter and the raucous crowds on Bourbon Street. Well-versed bartenders labor over a lengthy list of martinis while jazz musicians and cabaret performers provide background music. And while the food at many hotel bars gets overlooked, it shouldn't be here.
Despite a recent change in management, the posh restaurant and lounge has retained an air of timelessness, and its underlying British colonial theme remains. The gentlemen's club vibe is still intact — with leather armchairs, walls lined with bookcases, hunting accoutrements and wood paneling throughout. Cozy booths lined with curtains (which can be closed for privacy) give the space a romantic nudge, and the lush — if petite — plant-lined terrace is one of the city's most charming places to dine.
After The Bombay Club's longtime owner Richard Fiske died in 2013 (and the former management company moved the restaurant to a location a few blocks away), Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts took over the space, kept the name and tapped Kingfish chef Nathan Richard to helm the kitchen. In January, Phillip Todd took over as executive chef, though most of the menu has stayed the same.
Bar snacks, priced at $3 during daily happy hours, provide a welcome respite from the steep prices at dinnertime. Pork belly tacos are showered in slivers of red onion, cilantro florets and bright kimchi slaw — a bracing contrast to the earthy flavors of the smoked black bean puree and succulent hunks of belly. A soft braided pretzel comes with a ramekin of Guinness cheese dip that carries soft mustard notes, and crispy boudin and cream cheese-filled pockets are served swimming in sticky Steen's sweet-and-sour reduction.
While the snacks dabble with global ingredients, the majority of the dinner menu features a mix of New American cooking with Creole and Cajun accents. A European influence is evident and dishes are executed with obvious finesse.
The most obvious link is the Scotch egg, a soft-boiled egg wrapped in spicy boudin and served on a bed of bacon-braised black-eyed peas.
Buttery gnocchi Parisienne are served over hearty pork ragu and topped with a deep emerald nicoise olive gremolata, a briny and herb-forward mixture that helps to cut through the richer elements. A decadent hanger steak arrives charred on the outside with a generous knob of bone marrow butter and a pile of roasted mushrooms.
Charred Brussels sprouts are served with dollops of bacon jam and maltese sauce, which is hollandaise with a kick of orange zest. The buttery marigold-hued sauce carries a wisp of citrus and faint sweetness, rendering the vegetable like candy.
A Southern-influenced chicken dish feels like all-American comfort food. Lightly breaded pan-fried chicken is served over a mountain of velvety Grana Padano grits with wilted greens, but sultry pork-studded chasseur sauce is what ties the dish together.
Table service can be inconsistent, and though the staff is friendly and eager to please, at times servers seem harried and overworked. Bar service is quick and courteous.
A short list of dessert options includes a playful chocolate whoopie cookie with smooth Frangelico-flavored cream filling and a handful of sweet after-dinner cocktails.
Because it's in a hotel and because it's in the French Quarter, the tourist presence is strong, but The Bombay Club attracts locals, too. They're drawn by the promise of well-crafted martinis and the anonymity bestowed by the secluded spot. It's as good an excuse as any to escape and play tourist for a night.