The Curry Leaf Cafe is the brain child of a Scottish man and an Indian fella who, after watching too much Masterchef and experimenting in the kitchen, decided to set up shop in Brighton’s South Lanes.
The South Indian-inspired menu takes a happy break from the well-trodden flavours of the North, and offers up a beautiful selection of fusion dishes that are vaguely familiar, yet unexpectedly cheeky. There wasn’t even a glimmer of Korma and Tikka Masala – welcome to the culinary party: venison, perfectly cooked pork and succulent sea bass.
We went for the launch of the brand new menu and, like willing guinea pigs, ate far more than was necessary. It was delightful.
To start we tucked into guntur chilli bhajis – stuffed long chillies deep fried in gram flour batter – and venison chettinad boti kebab – cubes of venison marinated in spices and served with an apricot chutney.
The chillis were hotter than expected but such an unusual taste, the pain was worth it. Especially after I was served a mango and pistachio lassi to take away the burn (on the house – very kind!). The venison was my favourite, however. The portions were generous, the marinade, perfect, and although the meat was slightly tough, the flavour forgave the extra work required of our jaws.
Both (friend) Nick and I are gluten free (haters gonna hate, yo), so we required a slightly moderated menu. The server was more than obliging and the menu very clearly stated which dishes contain gluten – a rare treat, even in trendy Brighton.
Our kodagu pork curry and kharai paneer were presented beautifully on silver trays with sides of rice, dhal and poddadums (which I asked for instead of the gluten-containing mint paratha) included in the price. At first glance the menu looks really quite expensive, especially when compared to other Indian restaurants in the city, but the size of the portions and extras included makes the price seem more understandable.
Curry Leaf Cafe offers a discounted lunch deal – with an extra 10% off if you join their club – and street food options for around £5. They also have Indian-fusion salads for around £7 and heartier dishes for £10 or less. As usual, lunch is the penny-pincher’s paradise.
This spicy little gem is well worth a visit, especially for those gluten-free folk, and we’ll be sure to head back again soon to sample more of their eclectic, cheeky eats.
Total cost a my starter and main (which comes with sides) is between £15 and £20