I have decided in addition to posting recipes and documenting my forays into the kitchen, I also want to include restaurant reviews in this blog.
I think eating food makes one a better cook, just as reading books makes one a better writer. By exposing yourself to different things you can learn how to improve and experiment with your own cooking. You can also find out how things should taste, like if you want to make an awesome crepe, but you’ve never had an awesome crepe, I think it makes it that much more difficult to succeed in that endeavor.
RESTAURANT: BOLLYWOOD BITES
For months now I’d been wanting to go to Bollywood Bites. I’d heard about it through ads in a local Indian magazine I have a subscription to (a free subscription I may add, I signed up for it on a whim). When I looked it up online, I found many reviews singing its praise. I also read many reviews mentioning less than stellar customer service and a difficult to find location.
But I am just crazy about chaats (Indian street snacks) and I really wanted to try the ones at Bollywood Bites, to see how much better (or not) they were than the ones I’ve had other places.
So one afternoon one of my friends (Kellie) and I jumped in my car and drove to Bollywood Bites!
…Which was in a town (Pineville) about 40 minutes away from where I live (Charlotte).
And when we arrived in this town, Kellie and I could not find this place. Now, Pineville is a small town, so there are not many places for a restaurant to hide. We literally drove up and down the same 2 streets for about 20 minutes, both of us trying to use the Google Map applications on our phones, to no avail. We could not find it!
Not until we Googled reviews and read one that told us to look in the strip of stores that faced away from the street near a patch of woods.
This place could not be more hidden if it were a cabin in the woods.
Kellie and I were so relieved to have found Bollywood Bites, we almost couldn’t believe it.
And it looked closed, but the door was unlocked and the sign said ‘open’. So we walked in and there was no one visible. lol.
I’d been planning to order dahi bhalle and Khaman Dhokla, but I was informed they were sold out of both. I thought it was kind of ridiculous to be sold out of anything Tuesday afternoon, especially since they are closed Monday and that should mean that Tuesday should be a fresh start, meaning they should be fully stocked for the week ahead. But maybe that’s just me, I don’t know…
But I’m an easy-going person, I go with the flow. So after I asked the woman at the counter what items actually WERE available, I ordered chole tikki, bhel puri, and tea elaichi.
Kellie ordered some samosas and sev puri (at my suggestion).
SO THEN WE WAITED FOR OUR FOOD…
…and I had a photo shoot and read a magazine.
There were a lot of movie posters, not surprising as the place is called Bollywood Bites. There were also 4 plastic deck chairs, and a TV, but it wasn’t on.
It should also be noted that this is not a place where you can stay and eat the food you order. In fact, I was quickly informed that “You can’t eat in here”–though I don’t know why the restaurant mistress wouldn’t want our company. The place seemed pretty lonely, but maybe she was watching a Bollywood movie in the back and didn’t want to be disturbed.
Then the food arrived!!
My tea was AWESOME!!!!! Kellie tried some, and said it was too sweet, but I thought it was great.
It was pretty good. I don’t think I’d say it was the best I’ve ever had though. You have to mix the chutnies in yourself, so that is a little different. I would’ve liked it a bit spicier. Also, compared to others I’ve had, this one was mostly just puffed rice, and less of the other toppings usually included.
I’d never had this before. It was pretty good, but I usually go for more crispy/crunchy foods, like pakora or bhel. It had a great flavor though. I loved the cilantro.
I think Kellie liked it more than I did. It was also very mild, so it is a good option for people who don’t like spicy food.
I suggested to Kellie that she order the sev puri, as I’d gotten it in the past at other places and loved it. But the sev puri at Bollywood Bites is not quite like the ones I’d had previously. I’ve only had sev puri made using papadis (like a circular cracker) and the one at Bollywood Bites was made used little puris. I kind of like the papadis better, especially since there is usually more tamarind date chutney on them than on the puri ones (at least the ones I’ve had).
Also you have to make these yourself, which isn’t terrible, but if I hadn’t been with Kellie to show her how to assemble them, I don’t know if she would’ve really understood what to do. I mean, she’d never had or seen them before.
FYI: To assemble the sev puri you just tap a hole in the puri (it’s hollow) and fill it with the potato and top it with the sev and chutnies.
In conclusion, I would not return to Bollywood Bites, mostly because it is far away.
To a lesser extent because the food was not memorable.
And chiefly because there are 2 cafes very near my house that serve chaat and I think their service/food is better than what I found at Bollywood Bites.
But you know, I mean, if I lived in Pineville I’d probably go back.
STAR RATING: 3 of 5 stars