Published: July 2011
I'd been past Bengal Cuisine in Alness many times but had never stopped in for a meal.
The day I decided to try it was also the day the sun came out after days of rain. Hot weather doesn't stop people eating spicy food in other countries, so my boyfriend and I headed there anyway.
It soon transpired that the people of Alness were more in the mood for ice cream than curry, as we were the only customers in the place! The fact it was a Monday had some bearing on this too, as the waiter explained it was one of their quieter days.
Nevertheless, we took a seat and looked through the comprehensive menu. As well as the usual dishes you find in Indian restaurants (baltis, kormas, kashmiris) there was a selection of Bengal specialities including sholey, a curry made with ginger and sambuca. Each item had a handy description to help customers make their choice.
We kicked off with papadums and Indian beer. The papadums were crispy, light and delicious and we enjoyed the accompanying dips too. The spicy mango chutney was bursting with flavour and the mixed pickle combined hot and sour notes.
For our starter we ordered a vegetable platter but were given a meat one. Not being vegetarians, we tucked in to the pakoras, samosas and bhajis anyway. We were halfway through the so-so sundries when the waiter realised the error, apologised and went to get us the correct order. Knowing how filling Indian meals can be we declined, but appreciated the offer.
For my main, I opted for chicken tikka masala. It was the reddest dish I'd ever seen and may have looked more natural with a few flecks of herbs in it. The chicken, however, was tender and the mild sauce was laced with coconut, making it an excellent curry overall.
My boyfriend's main, the green herb sizzler, was a Bengal speciality served on a hotplate. With green chillies, green peppers and coriander, it was both hot and true to its name! We enjoyed this unusual curry and are keen to try some of the other Bengal dishes. Our Peshwari naan was one of the best we've had.
With friendly service, a comprehensive menu and good food, Bengal Cuisine is definitely worth a visit – rain or shine. The décor is perhaps a little outdated, but the restaurant is clean and tidy and, if you bag a window seat like us, it's a great place to watch the world go by.
Quality of food: 7
Menu choice: 8
Value for money: 8
Summary: With its selection of Bengal specialities as well as the more familiar Indian dishes, this is well worth a visit if you enjoy a bit of spice.
79 High Street
Alness IV17 0TD
Tel: 01349 883583