Curry Leaf.

In my mid to late twenties, Indian food was an obsession. I couldn’t get enough of it. As time went on, the diversity of my food choices was greatly broadened and my love of the cuisine quietly slipped away from the spectrum. On top of that, the last two or three times I had  Indian food  were disappointing and only compounded my dead desire for the cuisine. That is, until Curry Leaf opened.

Located in the old Fleetwood Diner in Kentwood (R.I.P. Fleetwood Diner) it’s confusing when looking at it from the outside. They haven’t remodeled at all so it still looks like a restaurant from an era ago. When Nathan and I walked in this past weekend, I was very surprised to see how busy it was. At an off time on a Sunday afternoon, the place was nearly packed! And with about 80 percent of the customers being Indian, I took that as a very good sign.

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MIRCHI-KA-SALAN AND MUSHROOM MUTTER MAKANI

We didn’t know that we would receive complimentary dosas in the beginning of our meal. A thin crepe with a layer of cheese and filled with spiced potato, they were fantastic. For an appetizer I ordered the samosa, typical I know, but I was really craving potatoes. Next time I’ll go with the dosas instead, and I recommend for you to do the same!

Everything was great. From the appetizers to the naan to the entrees to the tea, so delicious! And what really surprised me was Nathan’s enthusiasm about the whole meal, especially about his Mushroom Mutter Makani. There have been times in the past when I craved Indian food and he never wanted it. I have a feeling this restaurant will likely change that.

The only tiny negative we had about the meals was the spice level. I asked for mine spicy, and it was good, but I would have enjoyed a little more. Nathan said the same about his dish, and keep in mind that he’s kind of a wuss. He asked for medium spice, and found it a little lacking. But you know, something like that is subjective, so take it with a grain of salt. (See what I did there?)

After only one visit, I can say that I love Curry Leaf. The food was awesome and the service was warm and friendly. You can tell that they are genuinely excited and happy to be there. I think the prices are typical for an Indian restaurant. As Nathan said, he will surely miss his Hippie Hash from Fleetwood, but, Curry Leaf is quite a welcome addition to the neighborhood!

Curry Kitchen, Formerly Taste of India, Located in the Old Palace Of India. Got It?

Papadum with Chutneys.
Papadum with Chutneys.

I have no idea if any of these restaurant owners are the same, or are related, or have never even met each other. Tonight I dined at Curry Kitchen on Fulton Street, which was recently renamed from Taste of India, which is located where Palace of India used to be.

When I first moved to Grand Rapids, my Indian food go-to was Bombay Cuisine. It was good, and I liked the location, but then I found Palace of India, and I fell in love. I ordered take-out from them frequently until I noticed how it was affecting my bank account, so I had to take a hiatus. Then they moved, and I was crushed. You’re not located two blocks away from me anymore? Damn my slothful tendencies!

Back to Curry Kitchen. I went there tonight with Dayveon, a friend of mine for dinner. We noticed immediately how much the interior has changed since we last visited. Much more modern with popping colors and less paintings hanging on the walls. It’s cute, and I liked it, but I also missed the more authentic atmosphere the old restaurant presented. The service we received was very friendly and prompt. The prices appear to be along the same line as most Indian establishments.

We started off with complimentary papadums. For those who don’t know what these are, papadums are a crispy and thin disc shaped Indian food usually made with seasoned dough made from black gram, or flours made from chickpeas, lentil, rice, or potato. They are cooked or fried with dry heat. Ours were served with two chutneys, and  I am sorry to say I don’t remember what they were. The brown chutney was thick and sweet and a nice complement for the Indian wafer, but I liked the fresher green one better. Comparably to other chutneys I’ve had, they were just okay. As for the  papadums themselves, they weren’t that great. Again, I’ve had a lot of  different varieties in my life, and these paled in comparison. The flavor was good, but I didn’t like the texture. To try and paint a picture, they were a little plastic-y.

Aloo Tikki.
Aloo Tikki.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Aloo Tikki. Mashed potatoes filled with spices, covered in flour and deep fried. The spices really carried through, which made me happy, but the salt content was too high for me. However, you should know that I’m not a salt lover, and I try to avoid it as much as I can. So what is too salty for me may be normal to you. Dayveon said he didn’t really get much of the salt, so either I’m extremely biased or his taste buds have some issues he should probably address. The texture of the aloo tikki was quite dense, and not in a way I enjoy.

For naan, we ordered the Ajwanini Naan. Stuffed with garlic, basil, and…mozzarella cheese. I wanted to give it a shot, and as I suspected, it was not that great. I would have traded the dairy filling for a stronger basil and garlic flavor to shine through.

Lamb Bhuna.
Lamb Bhuna.

I ordered the Lamb Bhuna for my entree because I had never had it before. It was good. I had a couple pieces of dry lamb but the rest was tender enough, and the sauce was delicious. The rice threw me off a bit. I’m fairly certain they use basmati rice, which is a standard in Indian restaurants, but theirs was heavily oiled and there was an absence of cumin seeds. The flavor was good, but I prefer the more restaurant popular style of Indian rice.

Chai Tea and Mango Lassi.
Chai Tea and Mango Lassi.

To finish our meals I ordered the Indian Chai Tea and Dayveon ordered his first Mango Lassi. They brought my tea out unsweetened, which I appreciated. The lassi looked as if they make it there, as opposed to a store bought concoction, which is most always a good thing.

I like this restaurant, but I don’t love it. Based on what I had today, I think their food is lacking of excitement. Their menu is more unique than others, and has a bit of fusion going on, which I do find interesting. They have a small Indo-Chinese selection which I want to try. There is also a dish or two that I haven’t seen on other Indian menus, so I have an itch to taste those too. Until next time.