A Review of Curry Leaf Cafe Brighton Station
Curry and trains, synonymous with India and now with Brighton
Curry Leaf Cafe (Brighton Station) – India street food
Thursday 3rd March, 13.26
- Usilimpatti Mutton Curry
Takeaway Boy Rating:
Disembark at Brighton station these days and you’re greeted with not only the city’s eclectic mix of characters going about their daily lives but also the pungent smell of Indian spices that may have you wondering if you have in fact arrived in Delhi.
On this particular day, I was rushing from a morning of meetings in Brighton to some afternoon ones in Burgess Hill and hadn’t had the chance to grab lunch. Previously, my first thought would have been to pick up a bland, pre-made, sandwich from Marks & Spencer to ensure the meeting wasn’t disturbed by gurglings from my hungry tum.
However, since January of this year, the Curry Leaf team has newly opened a small, colourful kiosk below the departures board, which teases the taste buds of commuters rushing to catch trains. Having thoroughly enjoyed both takeaway and dine-in meals from the Ship Street restaurant, I was keen to take advantage of this cleverly placed location.
Neither of the two chicken curries displayed on the ‘Meat Curry of the Day’ section of the hand-written boards above the service counter were available and not being a lover of pork, I was advised the mutton was an alternative available. Chilli Pickle’s Kashmiri Mutton Curry is one of my all-time-favourites so this was a no-brainer option.
The friendly staff engaged in some conversation whilst the curry, rice and daal of the day were portioned out for me and took the £9.95 charge – double what I may typically spend on lunch. Unsurprisingly my train was a few minutes late affording me enough time to eat the Usilimpatti Mutton Curry on a seat next to the public piano, whilst a young lad delicately tinkling the ivories producing a quite beautiful piece of classical music.
The music sadly was the highlight of the meal. The initial smell was good, but the first thing that lacked appeal was the visual I was presented with when removing the curry from the bag. I appreciate finding suitable packaging at a decent price point can’t be easy but the plastic container was fairly flimsy making eating from my lap difficult and more akin to a cheap airline meal from the early 80s.
Admittedly I have never eaten this particular curry before so I am not familiar with the flavour. It certainly had a spicy kick to it, but the flavours were unpleasantly tangy, almost acidic. It was also very heavy on cardomom seeds, and what I believe were pieces of cinnamon sticks, which along with the garlic I had been informed was in it, added to the overall bad taste.
Without knowing what the flavour should be, I can’t mark it down purely for not liking it from personal preference. However what has made me give it such a low score was the quality. I had been advised it had been slow cooked two days ago and as result, I was expecting tender, melt-in-the-mouth lamb. Sadly it was tough, chewy and the large chunks in the dish were difficult to eat without the provision of a knife.
Never a lover of daal I had a brief try, in the hope I could be converted but I conceded defeat, eating only the small amount of rice it was served with before taking what was left outside to see if I could find a homeless person who may want it. Finding none I discarded it to the bin and grabbed a sandwich from Marks.
As I say, it is likely it tasted exactly as it was meant to, though that was really not to my liking. However, the quality for the cost was the real disappointment. I am sure the cost of renting a space of this nature isn’t cheap, hence the high prices, but when you compare this to an equivalent from the Chilli Pickle street food stall, it really is no competition. This hasn’t put me off Curry Leaf overall, I’ll still dine in, but from now on I’ll just take in the smell at the station rather than indulge.
PHONE: 01273 207070 (Cafe not station kiosk)
ADDRESS: Brighton Train Station, Brighton BN1 3XP
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**Photography from curryleafcafe.com