By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Bombay Curry Company, Del Ray’s staple Indian restaurant since 1995, has closed, the owners announced Jan. 3 via Facebook post.
The couple who owned the restaurant, Nicky and Balraj Bhasin, said in the post that the decision to close was due to multiple factors, including staffing challenges, family matters and Balraj’s health.
“You have been wonderful with all of your support and continued patronage,” they said in the post. “The friendships we have built will last for many years to come and we simply cannot thank you enough for allowing us to be a part of this amazing community.”
The couple first opened Bombay Curry Company in 1995 in the strip mall at the base of The Calvert building at 3110 Mount Vernon Ave. When The Calvert was redeveloped into DelRay Tower in 2011, they relocated the restaurant down the street to 2607 Mount Vernon Ave.
Over its 23 years in operation, the restaurant developed a loyal following, becoming a go-to neighborhood spot for Indian food. Balraj Bhasin attributed the restaurant’s success to its quality ingredients and inventive menu, which balanced Indian classics like butter chicken and curry with creative options such as tandoori chicken wings, shammi kebab, bhel puri and chicken kadai.
“We had an interesting menu,” Bhasin said. “While we were serving a lot of stuff that all the restaurants served, we kind of put in some stuff which you would not find on any other restaurant menus. … Over the years, you picked up recipes and thought, ‘Hey let’s give them something different,’ and that’s what we did.”
The restaurant has been critically acclaimed in numerous publications including the Washingtonian and the Washington Post. Bhasin said their “big break” was when Phyllis Richman, the renowned Washington Post food critic who has been called “the most feared woman in Washington,” gave the restaurant a glowing review.
Over the years, Bhasin said one of his favorite experiences at the restaurant was its Sunday brunch buffet.
“It became almost like a club,” Bhasin said. “The same people would come every time and you come at 11:30, people are standing outside to come in and it’s the same people, they see each other every time, then they start saying hello, and then they start pulling their chairs closer and suddenly it’s like a whole big club.”
Now that the restaurant is closed, Bhasin said that he plans to retire and focus on his health. That being said, he and his wife plan to continue to stay active in Alexandria’s cooking scene.
“We’re asking people to stay in touch because we’ll do some cooking classes in our home and do some dinners, special dinners or something like that,” Bhasin said.
He said they also plan to look into getting involved with the local farmers’ markets to continue sharing recipes and products.
In the immediate future, Bhasin said he’s focused on selling the restaurant space at 2607 Mount Vernon Ave.
“We have a nice, small, beautiful restaurant, a good, decent sized kitchen,” Bhasin said. “So it would make an ideal restaurant for a family to run or it could make an ideal restaurant, say, for a chef who maybe thinks, ‘Okay it’s time to try it on my own.’”
Bhasin said the thing he’ll miss most about running the restaurant will be his involvement in the Del Ray community, from donating food to different events, to watching the community grow, to chatting with patrons each day.
“We’ve been here 23 years, and you’ve seen customers grow but you’ve also seen the neighborhood change,” Bhasin said. “What you miss the most is basically the interaction that you have with your customer … and not only are these people customers, they’re good friends.”