Entering up an opulently decorated flight of stairs and into a beautifully decadent dining room, the experience of eating in Bengal Brasserie began before we even sat down.
The lush fragrance of delicate spices mingled subtly with ceiling art, flower arrangements and ornaments that made one feel like you were entering a modern day Eastern Palace.
The service was incredible and within minutes of sitting down our waiter had recommended a beautiful Chilean Sauvignon Blanc called Neftali after asking us what our general food preferences were and what we would be ordering. I was slightly sceptical about ordering wine with spicy food, feeling it would somewhat be too much and I am accustomed to having several large jugs of water to go with my Vindaloo as opposed to anything more sophisticated. However this wine enhanced the different flavour elements in the food and was really smooth yet fresh. There was no need for water at any time during the meal.
We sampled a range of dishes from mild to positively flaming and this combination of spice levels acted as a self balancer, bringing our taste buds on a culinary journey demonstrating how the cuisine of the East is as diverse as the region itself. It really was quite exciting to try all the different flavours and for this reason I would without a doubt recommend the mixed tapas to share for starters, in total it combined six small plates. The first plate was a lamb dish. In this dish the distinctly mild flavours of lamb enter a new dimension amongst the rich yet delicate marinade and sauce of spices and tomatoes. Again we see the palate hit at different stages with a sweetness sourness and spice, yet retaining a distinct earthy flavour created by the fresh ginger, garlic chill and coriander accompanying the tikka marinated lamb. There were also breaded King Prawns that were delicate but revved up by the accompanying tamarind-esque dipping sauce. Lightly spiced vegetables in a wonderfully textured FILO pastry and the minature onion Bhajees retained their fresh onion taste despite carrying through the spices. There were also chicken mushroom and tomato kebabs – not unlike the ones that grace our summertime barbecues but brought to life with wonderful yet subtle Indian aromas – a perfect compliment to the plethora of flavours throughout the tapas starter.
Thrilled with what we had consumed so far, we asked the waiter to recommend our main courses and he recommended two curries, one medium-mild and one medium-spicy (a Dupiaza and Jalfrezie respectively) with chicken and king prawn. They were both delicious and the accompanying peshwari naan and pilau rice both balanced and lifted the flavours of dish at the same time.
However, delicious as the curries were I could also easily recommend ordering something a little different – such as the sea bass main course we also had. Beautifully presented (the whole meal was) two fillets of sea bass, coloured with the yellow tinge not unlike smoked haddock but once I tucked in and pulled away the flakes the fish was an immaculate white under the saffron and tumeric hue it had inherited from the range of spices it had been lightly coated in. Subtle Bengali flavours yet the dish was unmistakable as a fillet of sea bass and the fresh and delicate flavour of the fish held its own against the spices. It was accompanied by a potato cake of sorts which like the fish had an undercurrent of Bengali flavours. It was the eastern version of the fish of the day with traditional accompaniments you would find at any top eatery whether its influence is French, Italian or in this case Bengali. I was really impressed and so was my partner who was focused on his chicken dupiaza which was completely polished off and he made good work of my king prawn jalfrezi when my focus turned to the sea bass. The king prawns were jumbo sized as well I might add.
I shall definitely be returning to sample their pre-theatre menu and from now on all my Indian meals shall be accompanied by crisp white wine as opposed to endless jugs of water.
To contact the Bengal Brasserie T: 028 90682999 or visit http://www.bengalbrasserie.co