Curry Leaf East, London, EC1Y
This smart restaurant near Moorgate appears to have a steady stream of City workers looking to enjoy a decent curry in clean, cool surroundings after work or after a few post-work drinks. It is one of about 20 in the group I am told (and yes there is a Curry Leaf West, it’s near Tottenham Court Road).
The food in Curry Leaf East is not going to be the cheapest you’ll ever enjoy but you’ll be hard pressed to find better curry. This contemporary venue is right up there when it comes to quality ingredients and offers a balanced and interesting menu without completely ditching the old favourites.
The colour palette of the restaurant is mostly cool creams but set off with dark wood chairs and metal, latticed Indian-style lights. The centrepiece is a wooden installation hanging from the ceiling that will remind you of a small whale skeleton. A couple of tables sit under this, while others line the walls of the long, narrow space.
It’s always a delight to see Chicken Nilgiri Korma (£10.95) on a menu. This spicy version of the classic offers a nice balance of creaminess and spice bite, although this one came in a greener sauce than you’ll usually find thanks to freshness of the mint and coriander used to create the sauce. There is also dark rum in this dish.
Lal Maans (£9.95), a rich Rajasthani dish, was the closest dish we could find to the craved-after Keema. But don’t expect frozen peas anywhere near this dish. The small chunks of lamb were perfectly cooked and tender, and smothered in the trademark thick, dark sauce of northwest India.
The Khumb Makai Masala (£4.50) offered button mushrooms instead of the more common slices served in other curry houses, and the baby corn supplied an excellent crunch to add to the sweetness of the dish. Add to this the tang of the Lemon rice (£3.95).
The obvious freshness of ingredients ensured all the various flavours of each dish was distinctive and balanced and none were overpowered. One moment there was the creaminess of the korma, then the kick of the chilli, then the sweetness of the lamb and the zestiness of the rice. It’s what makes Indian food so wonderful and not something we should really be surprised at, but as we all know from the more cheap and cheerful corner-of-the-street curries, this isn’t always the case.
Curry Leaf East, 20 City Road, London, EC1Y 2AJ. Tel: 020 7374 4842. Open: Mon-Fri noon-3pm, 6pm-11.30pm; Sat-Sun 6pm-11.30pm.
Curry Leaf East snapshot
Food ① ② ③ ④ ⑤
Decor ① ② ③ ④
Value ① ② ③
Atmosphere (late on Tuesday night) ① ② ③ ④
Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④