Review: Brick Lane Curry

I am one of the lucky few in the New York/Tri-state area to have made it through “Superstorm Sandy” with nary an inconvenience, except for extremely long lines at the grocery store and occasional houseguest using my shower and electrical outlets. Cozy in my UES apartment with lights, heat, hot water, and a steady internet connection, I can only count my blessings and keep my thoughts with those who were not so fortunate. Here’s hoping that the disaster relief crews and utility services work safely and speedily to restore service, and many, many thanks to all of the men and women out there who are trying to do so.

It seems sort of callous to post a restaurant review in light of all of the hardship being endured right now, but I really wanted to share my thoughts on Brick Lane Curry, now that I finally managed to have a meal there.

After a number of scheduling and weather-related mishaps, I was able to sit down to dinner last night at Brick Lane. Here’s what I found:

Note all the wood paneling and chandeliers

From inside the restaurant looking towards the front.

Decor:

Lots of wood all over the place, with four zones of tables starting at the front windows (the very same tables that had taunted me for months), then across from the bar, up into a balcony, and in a back dining room that seemed almost French-salon-esque in decor. The main space is dominated by a gorgeous and enormous bar, but it’s completely empty at the moment, since Brick Lane has yet to acquire its liquor license (a quick trip to the Duane Reade across the street made our dinner BYOB). Overall the tone of the place is very upscale, from the table settings to the dress of the waitstaff — this is not your average Curry Hill lunch spot.

The large and empty bar (those beers are byo)

Service:

The service was a little slow, unfortunately, but you have to be a bit forgiving considering they only opened a few weeks ago, and the transportation issues from Sandy that left most restaurants uptown understaffed. Our waiter was very nice and speedy with the water refills and the initial basket of papadom, but they brought out our dishes in two spurts with a bit of a lag in between, and they messed up handling the bill between cash and credit card instructions, charging one person only $4 instead of the amount she wrote on the check.

View from the front of the restaurant looking back into the balcony and rear dining room.

Food:

– Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the food because I was so ravenous and eager by the time it came (I have to get better at this food blogging thing). I ordered lamb saag and naan, which came with the normal rice pilaf, in good size portions. The meat was very tender and juicy, and the naan was warm, fluffy and well toasted, but the rice was lukewarm, and unfortunately, the flavor of the saag itself was a little too mild. I have a pretty low tolerance for spicy food, so I wasn’t interested in a hot curry, but the saag sort of just sat on my tongue without leaving a real presence. It certainly wasn’t bad, but considering their claims of being a real British curry house, I was a little disappointed at just how far afield this dish was compared to the wonderful saag I had when I was living in Scotland (if you ever find yourself near the University of Glasgow, please go to Ashoka. Best Indian food I’ve eaten, hands down.)

What made the underwhelming saag even more disappointing was the cost of the meal. Each curry has a base price of $15, and my lamb saag was at $19, not including the order of naan. Understandably, Brick Lane is going for a more upscale vibe, but I have honestly had a more flavorful Indian dinner at cheaper restaurants in New York, from Baluchi’s to Om to Gandhi Cafe. Everyone at dinner last night paid upwards of $20 for their meal, which is far from ridiculous in Manhattan, but as an underpaid, deal-centric 20-something, if I’m going to make the choice not to spend money on a non-Chipotle or pizza dinner, I’d like a little more bang for my buck.

Final Thoughts:

As I said before, there was no way that Brick Lane Curry could ever live up to the expectations I built up over the months of watching and waiting for it to open. Overall, it was pretty middle of the road for me, and I definitely would opt for ordering a different dish over saag if I go again. They don’t seem to have any delivery deals the way most of the Indian places around here do, so I’ll probably stick to my current favorites on Seamless. However, the convenience of Brick Lane’s proximity to my apartment, and the fact that they offer a lunch deal with an entree, rice, naan and dessert for $10, makes it likely that I will return during weekend lunches to explore new Indian dishes. At least I can now firmly close this chapter of restaurant stalking, albeit with more of a gentle page turning than a resounding thud.

(PS: The bakery I mentioned in my post Restaurant Stalking has closed again. They are moving uptown to East Harlem, and assuming yet another name. The UES economy claims another victim.)
Stay safe everyone!

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