Food

Luxe Indian Restaurant Bombay Velvet Opens in Reston

Try lobster curry and coconut cocktails from the Punjabi by Nature restaurateur.
Chef/owner Rajiv Chopra opens Bombay Velvet, an upscale Indian restaurant in Reston (pictured: paneer and four cheese kofta with a parmesan wafer). Photography by Greg Powers.

Chef and restaurateur Rajiv Chopra has opened four casual, counter-order locations of Punjabi by Nature, showcasing Northern Indian cuisine in North Virginia. Now he’s going upscale and highlighting regional cuisines at Bombay Velvet, a luxe Indian restaurant now open in Reston.

Chopra refers to the menu as a “gastronomic adventure to India.” The chef took research trips to six regions and cities in his home country, studying recipes in upscale hotels and learning how to hand-grind spices in small villages. Dishes from the north, south, east, and west live alongside each other on the menu, often accompanied by footnotes recounting a dish’s origin. The chef incorporates at least eight types of chilies found across the subcontinent. Chopra hopes the distinct spices and ingredients of each region will allow diners to “feel the flavor of that location.”

Pan fried Dahi Ke Kebab is a hot appetizer with mint and pomegranate dip. Photograph by Greg Powers.
Pan fried Dahi Ke Kebab is a hot appetizer with mint and pomegranate dip.

Starting in the south, the kitchen looks to Hyderabad. Seared scallops are paired with peanut salan, a spicy curry sauce traditionally enjoyed by the region’s ruling dynasties. Seafood dishes pay tribute to the coastal regions like lobster curry with a malai sauce simmered overnight, taking inspiration from the abundance of fisheries in the Bay of Bengal. The cocktail menu echoes the attention to regional flavors, like a beach-y Kerala-inspired concoction of rum, coconut water, cumin, and pineapple.

Skewers marry chicken chorizo and shrimp with flavors from Goa on the west coast. Photograph by Greg Powers.
Skewers marry chicken chorizo and shrimp with flavors from Goa.

Traveling northward, the restaurant pays homage to the influence of Mughal rule on Northern Indian cuisine. The Mughals ruled for two centuries, bringing with them rich curries and hearty dishes like rice biriyani. Chopra pairs a dish he says was eaten by the Mughal kings, chargrilled chicken barra kebab, with mint chutney and a beetroot pickle salad. 

Imbibe through India with cocktails like Backwaters, a tribute to the tropical state of Kerala. Photograph by Greg Powers.
The Backwaters cocktail, a tribute to Kerala with rum, coconut, and cumin.

The influence of Portugal, Armenia, and Britain on Indian cuisine are also prevalent on the menu. Chopra revamps the Scotch egg of British gastropubs, combining the traditional hard boiled egg with minced lamb, and saffron pistachio sauce. The menu boasts seven types of naan, from a simple butter version to iterations like truffle or black-and-white garlic.

In case you’re wondering about Bombay Velvet’s name, the 100-seat space is filled with hints: velvet sofas, velvet curtains, and velvet chairs. “Everywhere you will feel the velvet touch,” Chopra says. Looking upwards, the tin ceilings are meant to nod to 1930s American homes and 1970s Bombay, illuminated by a ten foot chandelier. In addition to the main dining room, guests can grab a table at one of the three outdoor patios or at the onyx bar.

The dining room is dotted with touches of velvet and a chandelier with 380 lights. Photograph by Greg Powers.
The dining room is filled with velvet and a chandelier with 380 lights.

Chopra already has plans to expand Bombay Velvet into the District in 2020. He has yet to sign a lease but has eyes on a number of locations. 

Bombay Velvet. 12100 Sunset Hills Rd., Reston; Open Sunday through Thursday 10:30 to 11; Friday and Saturday to 12.

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