Bina Tandoori, Caversham

The welcoming blue neon of the Bina frontage puts you in a relaxed mood as you enter this (self appointed) up-market contemporary eatery. Funny name though, Bina Tandoori – makes you wonder what it’s been in the past (Bina Off-License? Bina Dry-Cleaners?) Who knows…well I expect someone out there does and I cant be bothered to check it up. Moving on from the electric blue (Bina Sex Shop?), the low ceiling and low level lighting gives for a pleasant enough atmosphere. On closer inspection however, the interior looks like an early experiment by Lawrence Lleweyln-Bowen, with curious shaped pieces of MDF and blue transparent perspex separating sections of the room. The art work follows a modern theme too, perhaps suggesting more of a homage to possibly Salvador Thali rather than Vishnu, painted elephants or the Taj. Anyway, my seat slightly annoyed me as it was half on the floor and half on a carpeted area which does nothing for my OCD.

Drinks arrived swiftly as did some very fine popadums and the standard quorate of ‘chutneys’ (of which only one is a chutney). The starters were excellent. The tandoori duck (which has a hint of Chinese five spice about it) was exceptional and its accompanying salad even had hints of lettuce from more than one bag. The onion bahjis were well cooked, still retaining some soft sweetness inside. Both the starters were served with a strange tamarind dip – to be honest I cant say it really went with anything terribly well but was fairly inoffensive in itself.

Main courses turned up on prompted request (ie they asked us), which did make me think they might have been standing around for a little while. The lamb rogan was good, if perhaps lacking a little in lamb. Similarly the chicken tikka biryani was also good although came with rice decorated with a piece of carrot that looked as if it been carved by a first round failure in Master Chef (which we incidentally had to record as we were eating this curry!), you know, the ‘experimental’ one who usually gets kicked out before they get their sous-chef experience in ‘the kitchen of a top London restaurant’. Everything was a little on the red side I have to say, which didn’t half clash with the blue interior.

Beer turned up also fairly regularly on demand although we did find the selection a bit disappointing with the only Indian variety on offer Kingfisher (“India’s premium lager”, brewed in Faversham, Kent), and Tiger beer (“Singapore’s first locally brewed beer”) as the next most palatable (but less geographically appropriate) of options.

A standard selection of deserts (on a separate menu) was offered up complete with tempting pictures. It was interesting to see the Kulfi displayed still in its plastic cone like packaging, so perhaps not made freshly on the premises. Soon after desert, all the staff seemed to disappear as if on some collective fag break.

Anyway, we paid the bill and despite these slightly nit picky comments, this really is a very fine example of Contemporary Indian Cuisine and well worth a visit with friends who wont go home disappointed (unless they wanted something Greek and thought you were going to that nice little place across the road).

Randdy Dogoe gave this restaurant 70

Bret Myri scored this establishment 70

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