From the outside, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Bengal Diner was actually a used car lot with its banner and flags across the car park entrance. The interior was less glitzy, the waiting area positively drab with a single coffee table so wobbly we daren't put down our drinks. The eating area was slightly more pleasant having been recently redecorated. There was only one other table occupied when we were finally seated and only two more parties arrived during our long, drawn out eating session. We declined to order poppadoms that displeased the waiter no end and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Things got worse when only one of us ordered a second drink.
The onion bhajis would have been OK (4 balls, nice texture, reasonable flavour) had they not been stone cold. Arriving mangled on a plate (had the chef been hacking off the burnt bits?) - the sheek kebabs were also well spicy but once again were cold. The non-menu mushroom chat looked and tasted excellent. JohnH's shami kebabs were quite reasonable but, as with the other starters, the accompanying "salad" - one slice of cucumber, one tomato slice and lettuce was a joke.
Being a special dish meant that the Bengal Spice Pathia contained chicken, lamb and prawns. The lamb wasn't up to much, the chicken was second rate and the prawns were scarce. The thick and spicy sauce managed to bring this dish up to average quality. The Prawn Rogan turned out to be tasty prawn and tomato stew - very, very mild and had we not been in a curry house, we wouldn't have believed it was a curry at all. The Chicken Darziling was actually pretty good (lots of tender chicken, tomatoes, onion and peppers) but probably not worth the wait. Brightest dish of the evening was the Chicken Tikka Massala - it may have tasted awful but at least we'd have been able to find it in the dark. Surprise dish of the night was the Balti Chicken. Although not mentioned on the menu it contained lamb and copious amounts of prawns under a thick layer of chicken chunks. We got the impression that the chef had made the wrong dish and then tried to disguise the fact - it's a bloody good job IanD doesn't have a seafood allergy. The nans were all horrible - they'd obviously been dropped in the tandoor and no attempt had been made to remove the charcoal. The plain boiled rice was once again average.
We'd have to think long and hard to remember a more disastrous night than this. Our starters took an hour to arrive and were cold. The main dish took an hour to arrive after we'd finished the starters. We'd hate to think what the service is like when they're busy - but with service like this they probably never get busy. We were seated at a table round a dogleg (hate to think what happened to the rest of the dog!), which meant we couldn't attract the attention of the waiter unless he happened to visit the other occupied table. Even then, he seemed determined not to look in our direction. If you want cold food and crap service at pretty reasonable prices, then this is the place for you.
Which gives an overall rating of 2 bhajis.