Blink and diners might have missed it, but chef Floyd Cardoz’s former Soho Indian restaurant Paowalla has already switched over to Bombay Bread Bar, a more casual, raucous venture focused mainly on the restaurant’s popular bread offerings. On the menu in the very colorful new space are stuffed naans, kulchas, bhel puri, paratha, and more, in a bid to draw in more customers to what was previously a too-stuffy space, according to Cardoz.
Cardoz, who made his name as the chef at Danny Meyer’s now-closed Tabla, tells Eater that the restaurant at 195 Spring St., at Sullivan Street, became more formal than he intended it to be — in part because devotees of Tabla expected a similar vibe.
“You get carried away sometimes. Peopled who ate upstairs at Tabla wanted that kind of experience, so you tailor your food to that, and then it has less and less of what my vision was,” Cardoz says. “I wanted Bombay Bread Bar to be fun, accessible, and affordable. It’s not you come in and pray at the temple of Floyd Cardoz.”
So this change is to bring it back to his original, more casual vision. Accordingly, in stark contrast to the old, muted space, saturated colors abound, with a massive mural, marigold malas dangling from the ceiling, and animal head prints hanging on the walls, all designed by film set decorator Kris Moran, who worked on films like Moonrise Kingdom and The Wolf of Wall Street. Moran sourced young Indian artists to bring the dining room alive — the mural, from Pakistani-Canadian pop artist Maria Qamar is a floor-to-ceiling depiction of two Bollywood types set against a bright red wall, while a custom wallpaper of Indian faces from Moshtari Hilal uses photographs from the ’70s to evoke Cardoz’s childhood. Other colorful touches include a roaring tiger painted on the wood-burning oven, a matchbook wall, and vibrant oilcloth table coverings.
As for the food, the menu runs deeper on breads, kulchas, and small plates. Here, Cardoz pulls no punches — he’s giving the people what they want. Highly praised for his breads at Paowalla, they stay on the menu with add-ons. He also brings back his famed lamb naan sandwich from Tabla, which stuffs lamb, cucumber raita, and mustard mashed potatoes inside a naan. Some favorites from Paowalla made the cut, too, like the burrata with daal. The full menu is below.
“I just want people to come in, grab some breads, have a bhel puri, be happy, and leave. If you want to have more than that, there are options for you. But it’s not a commitment,” Cardoz says. “India is about color and texture and brightness. I loved Paowalla, but it was telling a different story.”
Bombay Bread Bar is now open daily at 4 p.m.