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Food Type: / City: London

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      31.01.2005 18:23
      Very helpful



      One thing London is blessed with, no matter what else you think of the place, is an unending choice of restaurants. Every style, every price range, everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. Certainly there are better choices in some areas than others. The trick is finding the good one.

      We have an office just North of the City, on Finsbury Square. It’s very convenient to use as a base when visiting customers in London although it’s actually only intended as a central London training centre. We use it from time to time so as to get out of our HQ and spend a little “Team Time” away from the phones and other interruptions.

      Recently we arranged a team meeting there with our much deferred and delayed Christmas Meal to follow. We were all being very good and using public transport so no one had to watch what they were drinking, just like a good night out should be.

      The evening started with an excellent couple of pints of Youngs most excellent ales in their Finches bar a few doors down. But then where to eat?

      No more than a few doors up the City Road towards Old Street you will find the CurryLeaf Indian Restaurant. Actually, this is one of two such establishments; this one is CurryLeaf East. The other one is on Charlotte Street in West London. I haven’t yet visited that one but it’s now on my list.

      The CurryLeaf website (www.curryleafeast.co.uk) opens with the message “”Indian Cooking as it should be... Just like Aunty used to make”. Now, I don’t know whose Aunty they’re talking about but it wasn’t any of mine!

      The restaurant itself is unexceptional in its presentation to the outside World. You might walk right past it without realising exactly what it is you are passing. My recommendation is, don’t. Once inside you are presented with a modern, impeccable interior that indicates that this is a place that takes great care over the face it shows the World.

      The décor is mostly clean, white with subdued lighting, though not so subdued as to clearly be hiding things they don’t want you to see. The furniture is also modern; dark wood, high back chairs set at tables of various sizes though mostly seating around 6 to 8 people. We were 6 in number on this occasion.

      The menu contains the usual suspects such as the inevitable Chicken Tikka Masala and King Prawn Bhuna for the unadventurous but extends to a whole range of dishes I had never seen before. Whilst considering which delights to try the usual popadoms and dips were provided (not really a night out without popadoms!) plus various drinks from the usual range. Inevitably I had a Cobra.

      My colleagues all had different dishes and I confess I didn’t take note of what they had ordered as I was far to interested in what was being served up to me. I started with Jheenga Kali Mirch, “Spicy griddled prawns, tempered with black pepper and green coriander”. It was delicious and just the right quantity so as not to spoil it for the main event.

      We (I) chose a Chilean Merlot to go with our meal. It was so good when ended up consuming several bottles. At £14.50 a bottle it was an absolute bargain. I just wish I could remember its name.

      My main dish was a Lal Maans, “A traditional Rajasthani speciality of diced baby lamb cooked with dried red chillies and crushed garlic”. This dish I have never tried before but I certainly will again. Cooked to perfection it was the highlight of the evening. On the side we had various dishes such as Sag Aloo plus some stuffed Naans.

      Throughout our evening the service was outstanding; not too much attention but always there when you needed them. We were given as much time as we wanted to enjoy ourselves although, it’s true to say that the visit was on a Friday night when most City Gents are dashing home for the weekend, so the place was by no means packed. They warranted and got a decent tip. The meal came to an astonishing £25 a head, not including the wine. It was worth twice that.

      I can say without any fear of contradiction that CurryLeaf East falls easily into the top echelons of Indian Restaurants I have visited. I recommend you get your selves along there anytime you are in and around the City of London.

      CurryLeaf East
      20 City Road
      EC1Y 2AJ

      Tel: 020 7374 4842


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