Curry Leaf Cafe, Kemptown: Serving up small plates with big flavours
The ‘small plate’ phenomenon has been in full swing for a while now, with many restaurants offering this style of dining. Whether it is to encourage us to try a wider variety of dishes, spend more money or make us feel like giants, is up for debate. Curry Leaf Cafe is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with their third location, Kemptown Kitchen in, yes, you’ve guessed it… Kemptown.
Situated in the ever-expanding Upper St James Street, the restaurant is smaller and more casual than its Ship Street sister. High top bench seating looks out onto the street whilst wooden tables and chairs fill the interior. The idea is to give guests a more casual dining experience, where food arrives in any order and drinks are as much a part of the experience as the food. Nibbles, street food, tandoor and curries along with the usual sides make up the small menu.
We ordered all our food at the same time, but with hindsight, it would have made sense to order items in two waves. First to arrive were the spinach & onion pakoras – £5.50. Fried in a spiced chickpea batter they were delicately flavoured with a sweetness that was further enhanced by the accompanying chutney. Packed full of filling they were quickly devoured, just in time for the curries to arrive.
The Keralan Chicken Stew had a creamy coconut sauce laced with chilli, ginger, fennel and star anise. This was different to any typical curry dish I have tried before and as the name suggests was more of a stew than a curry. The Hyderabi Dum Ka was at the other end of the flavour scale. A rich gravy based sauce with chunks of tender mutton mixed with brown onions, garlic, ginger and South Indian spices. We shared a side dish of Cumin Pilau Rice alongside it too.
Both curries were of the high quality you have come to expect from Curry Leaf. It was the portion size that was a little disappointing based on the price. Keeping in mind the concept is small plates they were of a size that fitted this but at £9.50 each, excluding the rice (an extra £2.95) it was a little high. Although to caveat that you pay for quality and in that respect, it couldn’t be faulted.
The final dish of Geelafi Sheekh Kebab – £6.50, arrived as we were part way through the curries. The three finger length kebabs were the least enjoyable of the lot. I had expected them to be charred just as the Tandoor dishes I have had before have been. These were, however, more anaemic in colour and crumbled as we ate them.
Having polished off the four dishes and still hungry, we ordered the Hyderabadi Lamb Chops – £7.50. The two chops were not particularly large but the meat was beautifully tender and the spices to flavour tasted incredible with the chargrilled coating that the previous dish had been missing.
With a glass of Viognier and their homemade Nimbu (a refreshing lemon and lime juice drink popular in India), the total bill came to £51.90 – although it won’t break I also wouldn’t say we were full.
PRICE: £51.90 for two people
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
The food pushed lots of buttons for me and I can see the it being a filled with loyal locals on a regular basis as word gets round. My advice to you though, don’t pop in starving hungry and skint.
Curry Leaf Cafe, Kemptown
40-42 Upper St James’s Street, Brighton, BN2 1JN
*Photos supplied by Curry Leaf Cafe but our meal was paid for in full by us.