Review – Curry Leaf Cafe
A joint project between Euan Sey, former food journalist, and chef Kanthi Thamma, Curry Leaf Cafe came about after a spare-room advert on Gumtree threw these two Indian food obsessives together. After years of dreaming, menu tailoring and planning, Curry Leaf Cafe opened its doors with Euan taking on a creative and marketing role and Kanthi assuming the position of Head Chef.
Immediately inviting, Curry Leaf Cafe stands out midway down Ship Street with a warm orange and bright green exterior. Exposed brickwork, large oak tables and rustic, shabby-chic chairs await. With space for groups and more intimate tables for two, the atmosphere Curry Leaf Cafe creates is relaxed, welcoming and informal without a white linen tablecloth in sight – a world away from the Westernised Indian restaurants scattered across town.
The menu at Curry Leaf Cafe is simply outstanding. A beautiful collection of South Indian delights for every taste, with an emphasis on authenticity and organic. The cafe serves a collection of dishes that cover brunch, lunch and dinner. If it’s korma or vindaloo you’re after, walk on.
The gorgeous Masala Roasted Peanuts – tossed in finely chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, chilli and lime (£3) are an ideal nibble whilst you browse the drinks menu. With craft beer, affordable wines and a great selection of soft drinks, Curry Leaf Cafe also has an array of authentic Indian teas – perfect for afternoon sipping and watching the world go by.
Lucky enough to be treated to an array of both starters and mains, Emma and I grazed on dishes such as sublime fragrant Lamb Geelafi – minced lamb marinated in spices for 24 hours, chargrilled and served with laccha salad, mint chutney and pomegranate raita (£6) and a subtle yet flavoursome Murg Tikka Chettinad – chicken breast pieces marinated in black peppercorns, coconut and fennel, roasted in a tandoor (£6). The Batate Ambade – mustard seed and curry leaf tempered potato with chickpea batter (£4.30) was the perfect introduction to the vegetarian and vegan options on Curry Leaf Cafe’s menu.
Main dishes ranged from a gorgeous, deep and slightly spicy Nellore Chapala Pulusu – sea bream fillets in a tamarind tomato sauce, tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds (£13) to tender lamb and garam masala tinged Hyderabadi Gosht (£12.50). The vegetarian sweet potato stew, Kaikari Sambar (£10.50) was full of subtle flavours and provided a wonderful texture to the plate. All mains come served with coconut, house or perfectly cooked plain rice.
Adventurous Indian influenced ice cream flavours provided in partnership with Boho Gelato fill the dessert menu and Curry Leaf Cafe once again shows its originality, flair and skill for flavour combinations: the white chocolate and cardamom is certainly one to save room for.
The street food element shines at lunchtime with options such as Aloo Mutter Tikka, Karivepaku Kodi and Amritsari Machi. Also available are thais, dosais and naan wraps to takeaway.
Curry Leaf Cafe is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best new opening in Brighton and Hove so far this year. A bold statement that may be yet one that matches the intrepid and exceptional standard of cooking from Kanthi and the team. A hugely-welcome breath of fresh air on the Brighton and Hove food scene, Curry Leaf Cafe is set to go far.
Originally printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent 16th May 2014