Ever since my go-to Indian place, Sher E Punjab, closed a few months ago, I’ve been searching for a replacement. When I’ve asked friends and people I respect for recommendations, one of the names that came up over and over again was Bayleaf India Bistro, which is located in the former Ted’s Montana Grill space up at Polaris. A few months ago I went and had lunch buffet with Lisa, and enjoyed it very much. So much so, that I vowed to return with my husband in tow for dinner.
The decor and atmosphere is surprisingly elegant given its strip-mall location, and the food can best be described as gourmet Indian or Indian with a twist on the traditional. At least on the evening we went, they seemed to cater to a predominately Indian clientele, which is always a good sign in an ethnic restaurant. After being seated, we were presented with a basket of pappadum (a crisp flatbread) and two sauces – one tamarind and date based, the other a conglomeration of fresh herbs and yogurt.
I’ve been craving samose like crazy all winter, and thoroughly enjoyed their version of them (3 samosa for $3.95). The filling was nicely spicy, and although they are a deep fried item, they weren’t overly greasy as many samosa usually are. They were served with a sweet chili sauce on the side.
We also opted for an appetizer of Vegetable Pakoras ($3.95), which were vegetables such as spinach leaves and onions dipped into a chickpea batter and deep fried, and served with the same sweet chili sauce that came with the samose. These were also solid, at least as good as any other we’ve had.
For my entree, I decided to go with one of their signature dishes, something a little different from traditional Indian dishes, called Khuroos-E-Tursh ($15.95), which is a chicken breast stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, onions and cheese and topped with a creamy cashew curry sauce, redolent with cardamom. It came with sides of saffron rice and veggies, which suited the dish perfectly.
My husband opted for the Mixed Grill ($15.95), an assortment of tandoori cooked meats, each with their own marinade and heat level. It was nicely paired with the saffron rice and a brown curry sauce, and seemed to be a great value.
For dessert, I chose the Kheer ($3.95), a rice pudding prepared in the traditional method. Although quite delicious, the cardamom got a bit overwhelming after a few bites.
My husband went with the better choice, a Bayleaf specialty and a twist on a traditional dessert – Chocolate Gulab Jamun ($4.95) fried cottage cheese balls in a chocolate syrup. It was nice and rich without being too overwhelming.
Service was a little uneven – we seemed to have two different waiters, one of who was excellent and very attentive, the other who seemed indifferent and ignored us for the most part. The bright spot of the evening was speaking to the owner (or manager, not sure) who was very friendly, engaging, and gave us a lot of information on the specific dishes.
Bayleaf also offers a lunch buffet 7 days a week, which I think to be one of the best in Columbus. Although, for us, frequent trips to Bayleaf aren’t very practical because of distance, it’s definitely somewhere we’d go again if in the area.
If you’d like to go: Bayleaf India Bistro, 1025 Polaris Parkway, Columbus, OH 43240, 614.825.1053