The Bengal Reef, Reading

Nestled snugly just above and right of Burger King in Kings Walk is the Bengal Reef – or indeed as the web site says, “The Bengal Reef Experience”. Must say it isn’t the best of locations and reception on my mobile was non-existent which is always an annoyance especially when waiting for the slightly tardy. The interior is fairly stark and chic minimalism gives way to something more reminiscent of a roll-on roll-off ferry. The retro stylish bar is quite cool although it did nearly have me ordering a Babycham.

It was a particularly quiet night which didn’t do much for the overall ambience, although this certainly wasn’t helped by the Enya or Chris Rhea tinkling out from the speakers smaller than a standard set of in-ear head phones. There’s also a curious array of similar (yet different) pictures of coloured squares, presumably daubed by Pablo Paneer or somesuch other contemporary Indian modernist artist. And lastly on the petty annoyance side was the bucket chair design which you couldn’t hang your coat on without it falling off the back and potentially tripping up the waiter as he brought out the next sizzler or vital top-up.

The menu is very well organised and contains a lot of fish dishes (particularly mussels) and this piscatorial theme is obviously reflected in the restaurant name. The dips were up to triage standard although we weren’t that happy to see them all sitting out ‘front-of-house’ before we sat down. In a slight break with tradition we went for the mixed starter option, primarily because this included all the starters we might usually select. This turned up on a sizzler. Good lamb and chicken tikka, tasty bahji’s but not so keen on the sheek kebab which was a bit greasy and felt like it had come off a kebab van’s rotating ‘elephant leg’.

The main courses arrived in good time. However, in between courses we put our time to good use and carried out a tasting on the beer options: Cobra vs Kingfisher. It has to be said that Cobra won hands down with two of the testers spitting out the colourful birdy-brew.

Of the main courses the Lamb Rogan was by far the best, and is by far the best I have tasted. Good sauce, good level of heat, and excellent chunks of lamb that you didn’t have to go fishing for. The chicken biryani was not to our experts tasters’ liking, citing the lumps of potato in the vegetable curry sauce as being out of place. Other sous-tasters did not concur with this view. The chicken tikka masala seemed well stocked with chicken and had a near nuclear glow about it – which seems about normal. Good, although not exception, sundries accompanied the food. The desert selection was quite extensive and got a definite thumbs up.

We were fairly well served throughout and came away happy and contented that curry was the victor at the end of the day. In fairness the score was rather buoyed up by the chance of seeing Glenn Hoddle.



Randdy Dogoe gave this restaurant 74

Bret Myri scored this establishment 70

Rich Rebrys (Guest Reviewer) rated this restaurant 69

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