The clever chaps behind The Mint Room are deservedly famous in Bath for busting the layman’s preconceptions about Indian food, with their reinvention of Indian fine dining – and now they’ve done the same for Indian street food, with the new Bandook Kitchen in Milsom Place. Bandook has been a huge hit over in Bristol, where it originally launched, so anticipation was running high in advance of the Bath opening. And when I saw they were offering a menu of Indian breakfast dishes, I was intrigued – I have to admit, I’ve never had breakfast Indian-style before, so I just had to try it for myself.
Bandook is The Mint Room’s less formal sibling, so the atmosphere is stylish but relaxed. Comfy leather banquettes, cosy booths and marble-topped tables make it feel a little like an Indian take on a brasserie, but there are plenty of beautiful and intriguing little details to stop it feeling too generic, from the framed polo memorabilia on the walls, to the funky mismatched light fittings, to the elegant Hindi script on all the signs.
The breakfast menu ranges from familiar classics with a Bandook twist – Sepoy’s Eggs Benedict, or the Bandook Breakfast (a full English gussied up with masala beans and beef bacon) – to rather more adventurous choices, like savoury Khichdi porridge and Uttappam, rice and lentil pancakes served with lentil sambar and chutney. Our lovely waiter, who bubbled over with enthusiasm for every dish on the menu, brought us a lavish feast thoroughly in keeping with traditional Indian hospitality, starting with warm, fragrant glasses of milky chai, and continuing until the table was groaning with food.
My husband and I both agreed that the Bombay Omelette (featured image, top) was the standout dish for us – beautifully light and fluffy, stuffed with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and spring onions, and served with crispy turkey bacon. The flavours were perfectly balanced and the dish was so vibrant and fresh – the perfect pick me up for brunch. We also loved the aforementioned Uttapam Masala, beautifully thin and crispy pancakes topped with sweet tomatoes and zingy spring onions, and served with a gorgeous rich and spicy lentil sambar (which is a bit like a thick lentil stew).
On the slightly less exotic side, we also tried Cheese & Chilli Toast – I’ll be honest, it was too spicy for my wimpy English palate but my much tougher husband absolutely loved it – and Amma’s French Toast, with fruit and cinnamon syrup. The French toast was beautifully cooked and very delicious, but not really any different to French toast I’ve tried anywhere else.
Throughout, we were extremely well looked-after, and our waiter was full of interesting titbits and suggestions – his recommendation of tamarind paste with the Bombay omelette (which he also recommended) was spot on. We had our eight-month-old son Freddie in tow, and he was given a lovely welcome too – there isn’t a children’s menu as such, but lots of dishes can be customised for younger palates, and he really enjoyed trying the milky chai tea too. The breakfast menu is very reasonably priced, with several really delicious choices for less than £6, and plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options.
Brunch is everywhere these days, and we’re all well past getting too excited over increasingly bizarre avocado dishes, so if you’re looking for something properly new and delicious, I highly recommend Bandook. If I’m honest, the menu did feel more brunch than breakfast to me, just because of the richness and intensity of the flavours, but that’s no bad thing. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely weekend feast with friends, a no-nonsense hangover cure or simply somewhere to while away a blissful solitary hour with the paper, I think Bandook is about to become Bath’s new go-to for brunch.