“ Address: 12 Forest Road / Loughton / Essex IG10 1DX / United Kingdom „
To congratulate ourselves on a job well done, some colleagues and I decided to go out for a curry. We decided to visit Bengal Spice, on Forest Road, Loughton, Essex. A few of us had been here before, but not recently, so decided a re-visit was on the cards. We booked a table for 5 at 8.30pm one Friday.
I believe the restaurant was an old furniture showroom, and it has a bit of a strange layout. There is an open reception area where you can wait if collecting takeaways, but the actual restaurant is quite a way back, down a long corridor. I sometimes find not being able to see the restaurant quite off putting, but it has been here over twenty years now, so they are obviously doing something right. The restaurant wasn't that busy - about a third full and we were seated promptly and handed menus. We ordered poppadoms (I had a spicy one, everyone else went for plain) and they came over promptly with dips - mango chutney and the mint yoghurt are always my favourites. They also have the onion dip as well as a pickle one. We skipped starters and got on with the mains.
I am a creature of habit in Indian restaurants and went for my vegetable dhansak (£6.90). It is a hot and sour dish with lentils, and the Bengal Spice use the spices to enhance flavours rather than blow your head off. The curry was flavoursome, with good sized pieces of vegetables, cooked so they can be cut with a fork, in a lovely, spicy sauce. Others in the party went for the Cashew Chicken, Dargiling Chicken Tikka (marinated in spices to make it look brown, it was supposed to come with a dip, but my colleague didn't realize until after) which was described as tasty, well cooked and having a pleasant kick to it. Another colleague had green chicken tikka which was also tender and marinated in different herbs and spices before being cooked in a clay (tandoor) oven. Most of these main courses were about £7.50-7.95. Alongside these dishes we had some pilau rice (£2.60 per portion), plain naan bread (£2.40) and an assortment of sides. I love saag paneer, a spinach and cottage cheese dish - some places make this quite spicy, but here it was mild, but pleasant, with plenty of cubes of cheese. We also went for a courgette bhaji (which was pieces of courgette chopped up small and served with ginger and herbs and aloo gobi which is potatoes and cauliflower in a mild sauce. They have a good range of side dishes at £3.45.
The toilets are back along the corridor to the front of the restaurant. There is only one Ladies cubicle, but it is clean, spacious and well stocked. Service was polite and attentive. I really enjoyed my meal and would come back here again. Overall our main dishes, side dishes and a couple of rounds of drinks came to approx £22 each.