THE Bengal Diner is more than just a restaurant.

Owner Syful Allum always wanted it to be a part of the community - and that is exactly what it has become in the four years since he took over the premises.

Previously a Spanish restaurant, Syful says he could immediately see its true potential and admits it wasn't just the building itself which held the attraction - it was also the large car park.

"It is quite unusual to have a restaurant space with its own parking and it really is quite a unique thing.

"I liked the fact it was in the centre of a village and I really wanted to make sure we were part of that community," says Allum who opened the Bengal Diner four years ago.

As well as the Ardleigh restaurant Syful has almost 40 years experience in the industry and also owns eateries in Wickford and Billericay.

He describes the Bengal Diner as fine dining - setting it apart from its competitors.

Home cooked Indian Food and entertainment are the key to the success, he explains.

Head chef Anamul Haque has already notched up a number of awards for his cuisine, using specific spices and going for a home-cooked approach.

Syful explains Anamul trained under top London chef Azam Khan, who has won awards for his Bengali food.

Echo: Some of the dishes created at the Bengal diner

"It is the way we use different spices and cook it in a specific way that make coming here a fine dining experience.

"We like to think that sets us apart from other restaurants and we can cater for large parties because of the marquees we have out the back," explains Syful.

The Bengal Diner has played host to weddings and corporate events as well as community celebrations.

"People come for special occasions and to celebrate events and I really like that and want to build on that," he adds.

The restaurant is hoping to build on current success and notch up even more awards.

"We are hoping to win another award from Curry Life later on in the year too.

"It means a lot to win those awards because we are very passionate about what we do here."

"We have a lot of tribute acts and those are really popular.

"You have a meal and then drinks and entertainment too and they sell out really quickly.

Michael Jackson, Elvis and Freddie Mercury acts are all acts which will top the bill in coming months at the venue and in the summer Syful will once again host a community barbecue at which soul singer Irie J will perform.

The event, on the last bank holiday of the year in August, will showcase the food and entertainment the Bengal Diner prides itself on.

"We have a big barbecue and music and it is very popular, I want this year to be bigger than even because I really do pride myself on the restaurant being part of the community.

"The food is at the heart of it, good quality and naturally cooked to a very high standard."