Set not far across the road from the Wetherspoons Stick or Twist (remember this, it’ll be crucial later), The Bengal Brasserie is a swanky new Indian restaurant in Leeds City centre, serving a diverse range of Indian and Bengali cuisine. It’s the latest in a line of restaurants that have been running in Yorkshire for over 25 years, an already well established brand in Leeds, York and Wetherby.
On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon, we were welcomed into the 120 capacity restaurant by friendly staff who directed us towards a bar and free drinks (also important for later). Colour changing lights set an ambient mood, with a series of grand pillars separating bar from restaurant. After a nice cold pint of Kingfisher we were escorted into the dining area to begin our meal.
I was pretty wary to begin with; as much as I love Indian food, I’m not great with spice and often get denounced by the team for ordering a korma on Gryphon trips to Akmals. Bengal Brasserie had promised us a taste of some of their best dishes, which were guaranteed to be spicy to at least some extent. And I wasn’t wrong. The starter consisted of some deliciously succulent fish; the perfect level of spiciness that didn’t distract from the flavours. The vegetable samosa, however, was a different story. It packed a punch that left me reaching for the mint yoghurt the waiters had thoughtfully left for us in the middle of the table.
After a short break we were presented with three curry dishes and a small amount of rice – not nearly enough for two people and three curries. But nevertheless the curry was delicious; chicken tikka masala, chicken zalfreze and lamb korai, all tenderly cooked in sauces with that perfect level of spice and oozing flavour. None of the dishes demonstrated anything about Indian cuisine I hadn’t already tried before, and our top up of rice was undercooked, but other than that meal was delicious and we cleared our bowls.
It was at this point that things went downhill a little. As a result of the free bar and the spicier than average starter, I was two pints down and starting to think it was about time to break the seal. I asked a passing waitress where the toilets were, to be told that they didn’t have any, and that the only thing she could suggest was to try the Wetherspoons across the road. Never in my life have I had to put on my coat and bag mid-meal and trek across to the local Spoons for a wee. It kind of ruins the ambiance and your appetite. Nevertheless, I can only assume this was because building work hadn’t quite been completed and toilets were due to be installed in due course.
Overall, for tasty top quality Indian food at decent prices, The Bengal Brasserie is a great choice. Just make sure you wait until the plumber has been…