In a city where fusion is unusual and grilled meats are eaten plain, it was refreshing to try a different kind of restaurant. Bengal has been open for a few years now and has been successfully serving a menu of both Italian and Indian specialties. It sounds strange but the combination works as those not willing to try anything new or spicy can stick to the Italian side of the menu while those who would like to go Asian for the day, can opt for the pretty authentic Indian dishes.
Located near the Ministerio de relaciones exteriores (Foreign affairs and culture ministry), the noon crowd is made up of mostly suited types having business meetings over lunch making ours the only table of lunching ladies (my MIL and I). Luckily, we were seated right beside the window on that dark rainy spring day.
I arrived late because A and I had a late breakfast at the Alvear, with his childhood friends Sebastian and Guillermo then afterwards decided to wander around Recoleta and ended up getting stuck in a sudden spring downpour. When I got there, An was already waiting so I had a quick look at the menu and ordered straightaway and A left to meet another friend for lunch somewhere else.
The food came quite quickly, a relief since I was hungry – spicy prawn tikka and saffron-flavored basmati rice for me which came in a clay plate that helped keep it hot while An had the chicken tandoori, also with basmati rice. I also ordered some naan bread which was perfect for sopping up the leftover sauce on my plate. The food was spicy enough and pretty authentic. I admit that I was skeptical about the whole Indian-Italian combination as I thought that the dishes would be a fusion of both and was pleasantly surprised to see that they keep the Italian dishes totally separate from the Indian ones. Aside from Sudestada in Palermo viejo which cooks up really good Southeast asian cuisine, this was the first time I tasted really spicy food in Buenos Aires as most places that purport to be “Asian” often lack that spice kick that good Asian food has. Dessert was a shared panna cotta (from the Italian side) which came with a citrus syrup and grapefruit zest – a tart ending to tone down the heat from our spicy lunch.
Arenales 837 (between Esmeralda and Suipacha streets)
Retiro, Buenos Aires
Telephone: +54 11 4394 8557
*Open daily for lunch and dinner