Bina - done that
PUBLISHED: 13:27 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013
Local resident Carol Evans wondered why she'd never visited the Bina Tandoori in Caversham, so now she has, she'll definitely go back...
I like the Bina Tandoori. In the 18 years since it opened in Prospect Street, Caversham, it has earned a well-deserved reputation for serving authentic Bangladeshi and Indian dishes at reasonable prices.
I love Indian food and the restaurant isn't far from where I live. So why haven't I been there before, especially knowing that it was voted one of the top 30 UK restaurants in the 2005 British Curry Awards? I have no answer to that, but I've put matters right and the Bina is now most definitely on my list of favourites.
Inside, it is contemporary and cool. The first impression is of lots of blue glass and mirrors with modern artwork on honey-coloured walls. But the low ceiling and soft lighting give an atmosphere that is warm and inviting, with staff that are helpful and friendly.
The menu is extensive with items that should appeal to every taste, from the very mild and sweet to the very hot and sour. And the chef will also provide any other dish that is not listed, so even the most well-travelled curry buff can be satisfied. Main course prices range from around £8 to £12 with side dishes around £4. Vegetarians are well looked after, too.
The range of starters looked good, especially the crispy tiger prawns, onion bhajee and the duck tikka, but after a couple of very satisfying poppadums and pickles, we went straight to main courses.
Call me a wimp, but these days I like to actually savour the individual spices in my curries, not have them seared to oblivion by the hottest chillies that bring tears to the eyes. And the dishes that we chose came just as we wanted: aromatic and spicy but nowhere near as hot as the madras and vindaloo dishes that are also on the menu. I later learned that the chef roasts and grinds his own spices.
As this was my first visit to the Bina, we wanted to sample one of its tandoori specialities and decided on the murgh shashlik (murgh is Bengali for chicken). It came to the table, sizzling and smelling gorgeous direct from the charcoal oven, with green peppers, tomatoes and layers of glistening onions enticingly charred at the edges.
A murgh razala from the list of chef's recommendations was a lovely concoction of chicken (yes, again!) cooked in a spicy sauce that included, among others, ginger, garam masala and yoghurt. The combination of spices gave it a real depth of flavour but one that delivered a bit of a kick too.
Alongside that, gosht kata massala, one of the Bina's most asked-for dishes, proved to be wholesome chunks of lamb braised with sliced onions and peppers in a flavoursome sauce containing garlic, ginger and tamarind.
Washed down with an ice-cold beer (Tiger for my husband, Kingfisher for me), it all went very well with the mildly spicy spinach of our palak bhajee side order.
The tandoori dish had come with a mixed salad but with fluffy pilau rice and a billowing naan bread already there for accompaniments, it unfortunately went back to the kitchen untouched. A pity because it looked very fresh and appetising.
Normally for us, a visit to an Indian restaurant ends after the main course and I have rarely, if ever, had a dessert. But on this occasion, we thought we would try a kolfi, which is Indian ice cream. Traditionally cone-shaped, it is a creamier, denser version of its western counterpart. My mango flavour and my husband's pistachio came garnished with strawberries and cream and was a pleasant way to end the meal.
21 Prospect Street, Caversham, Reading, RG4 8JB.
Tel: 0118 946 2115 or 2116.