Downtown Santa Rosa got a dose of modern Indian food with James Beard credentials when Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven opened last month. The menu comes from executive chef Niven Patel, a 2018 James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef in the South and the owner of the smash hit Ghee Indian Kitchen in Miami (which also won Eater Miami’s restaurant of the year award in 2017).
After working for more than a decade in high-end farm-to-table restaurants, Patel turned to his roots for the first time with Ghee, sourcing spices from the Indian state of Gujarat while also growing many ingredients on his own farm. Bollywood’s menu offers many of the same dishes as Ghee, including albacore tuna bhel salad with avocado and tomato; crispy cauliflower with paneer and pickled shiitake mushrooms; pork belly vindaloo; and ghost pepper cheddar naan. The Santa Rosa restaurant does have some unique dishes, though, like uttapam with short rib, crab cake korma, and ribeye cooked in a clay oven. (See the full menu below.)
While Patel developed the menu, he’s back in Florida operating his other restaurants. Day-to-day operations belong to chefs de cuisine Will Fernandez and Alex Sarria, who both worked for Patel at Ghee. Owner Sonu Chandi and general manager Sunny Chandi — of Chandi Hospitality Group — grew up in the Punjab region of India and wanted to add an Indian restaurant to their fleet of restaurants, which includes Stout Bros., Beer Baron, Bibi’s Burger Bar, and several Mountain Mike’s pizza spots. Bollywood replaces Chandi’s bistro County Bench and retains its exposed brick walls and semi-industrial look but adds a few more splashes of color.
The drinks side of Bollywood deserves plenty of attention, too, thanks to Scott Beattie and Andrea Mota. Beattie, the author of Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons and currently beverage director for Meadowood Napa Valley’s events arm, was notably behind the cocktails at wine country destinations such as Cyrus, Spoonbar, and Goose & Gander. Bollywood bar manager Mota, meanwhile, helped open Geyserville Gun Club Bar and Lounge. Their Indian-inspired cocktails incorporate ingredients like raw turmeric, Buddha’s hand, makrut lime, coconut milk, and rambutan.
Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven is open at 535 4th Street, Santa Rosa. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 10:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11:30 p.m.