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 Bekash, Stony Stratford
 Friday, 10 March 2000
  restaurant factfile
  also reviewed 4 January 2006
  also reviewed 2 November 2005

The Bekash is one of four Indian restaurants in Stony Stratford and the most centrally located. The menu advises that there's plenty of parking at the rear of the building and there is. Unfortunately, there's no entrance to the restaurant so we had to walk down an alleyway to the front where we found there was also plenty of free on-street parking! This is a bit of an up-market establishment with an extremely plush and spacious waiting/bar area. However, as we were shown straight to our table, we never got to sample its delights. The dining area is also quite sizable but has plenty of dividing walls and alcoves to provide a more intimate atmosphere. In keeping with most Indian restaurants in the area, artificial plants were everywhere. There were about 70 or so seats and when we arrived about three quarters of them were occupied. Fortunately, the waiter to diner ratio was very high resulting in a fast and helpful service. By the time we were seated we'd spoken to three members of staff and a fourth took our order!

As this was our first visit, custom dictated that we should have onion bhajee starters. These were delivered by waiter number five. Each portion consisted of two sizable balls which looked very inviting but turned out to be a little on the bland side. They had an overly dry, crumbly texture which made cutting and eating them slightly difficult. There was plenty of side salad but the gravy boat of mint yoghurt was not full enough to satisfy our needs.

The chicken dopiaza had a very mild sauce with an abundance of very finely chopped onions and large chunks of chicken. The chicken patia had a quite spicy sauce and huge pieces of chicken. In both cases, the chicken was tough and hadn't been infused with the flavour of the sauces. The sauces for both were very thin and watery - perhaps they'd been created for eating with rice. Having been advised against the chicken Syhlett (hotter than a Vindaloo apparently - but why have it on the menu if you're going to advise against eating it?), PhilS had to make a hasty second choice and went for the Balti Chicken Ginger. This was an unusual tasting dish but nevertheless, rather pleasant. The portion seemed to be bigger than the non-Balti dishes but again, the sauce was on the thin side. The whole dish left a considerable aftertaste for quite a few hours. We'd ordered three nans of different varieties. All were considerably smaller than the average nan and inexplicably, they had been cut in half. The keema nan was also a bit understuffed but the texture was good and the taste excellent. The garlic nan contained lots of crushed garlic and was a bit stodgy in places. The kulcha nan was also doughy and was stuffed with an inadequate vegetable paste.

The service at the Bekash is excellent - quick but not rushed - and the staff are very friendly. It's a shame that the standard of the food was such a let down. Perhaps we visited on an off night or our choice of dishes was flawed. There must be a reason for the Bekash's popularity in such a competitive market - perhaps we'll discover it on a future visit. It's worth noting that although the Balti dishes come with a nan, if you order anything but a plain nan, the difference in price is added to the bill even though there's no mention of this on the menu. We also found that we'd then been recharged for the 'free' nan and had to have our bill amended - this seemed to be a genuine mistake and was the only blemish on the excellent service.

The Scores

Food3
Service4.5
Ambience4.5
Value3.5

Which gives an overall rating of 3.5 bhajis.

DishRatingBy
Chicken Pathia2.5IanD
Balti Chicken Ginger3.5PhilS
Chicken Dopiaza1.5SteveB
Chicken Shashlick2.5SharonO (takeaway)

The takeaway
The takeaway comprised of two slightly greasy plain papadams and an excellently crispy and nicely flavoured spicy papadam. The onion bhajee starters were of the same standard as experienced in the restaurant. The chicken shaslick was quite red in appearance but tasted only of grilled chicken. The niramish tasted of slightly greasy vegetables and could have done with a bit of spicing up. The very garlicky garlic nan did not suffer from the tastelessness of the main course and side dish but could have been cooked a little longer. Overall, the takeaway was a bit of a disappointment and again this could not be attributed to the delayed delivery as it was out of the restaurant and on the table within 12 minutes.