Flatiron Lunch: Curry Leaf Excels at Crowd-Pleasing Indian Food

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

After a very successful outing to Kalustyan’s upstairs cafe, I decided to check out the recently remodeled – and still associated with Kalustyan’s – Curry Leaf.

Curry Leaf updated the awning and the menu display outside, but inside could use some help with the walls still spotted with hotel art.

On the other hand, I love their hammered copper jugs and correlating water cups.

Curry Leaf’s lunch options are not vast with only four platter options: vegetarian (two veggie curries), combination (with a meat curry and a veggie curry), tandoori vegetables (with veggie curry), and tandoori (mostly meat with a few vegetables from the tandoor oven and one veggie curry.) The vegetable curry options don’t rotate from day to day, so you have the choice of: saag paneer, alu gobi, dall makhni, chana masala, baingan berta.

In addition to the main dishes, each platter comes with basmati rice, naan, a salad (which was omitted from my meal, so I am not sure if they forgot, it is no longer offered, or if they decided it wouldn’t travel well in my to-go order.) I also got four small sauce cups with coriander chutney, a tamarind chutney, red onion chutney and something that looked like raita but was a watered-down sweet rice dessert. The dessert was the only container that was doubled, despite the fact that I ordered two meals. So if you order with a coworker and don’t see any of the chutneys, head over to your colleagues desk as they are likely hogging them.

A favorite of mine, saag paneer, was on par with most of the others in the neighborhood. It wasn’t densely spinach-y, but was more lubricated probably with cream and ghee or butter.

The fact they advertise the tandoori platter comes with seek kebab is a little misleading. My order included only about two bites of seek kebab, but the chicken was so good and plentiful, it didn’t matter.

The chana masala was an incredible value considering how densely packed the chickpeas were and the sauce was not watered down to extend the dish. And it all tasted really good to boot.

If any dish could be accused of being too liquidy, I would probably have to say the chicken tikka masala was guilty. With only about four pieces of chicken, it wasn’t an impressive amount of food. Compared to other tikka malasas, this one was more tomato-y and less creamy.

While Curry Express and Bhatti rotate through most of their menu options for lunch, Curry Leaf remains consistent with their accessible and widely recognizable dishes – making Curry Leaf a great option when you don’t want to push your boundaries or when you are doing a coworker a favor by introducing them to Indian food. But Bhatti is still my neighborhood favorite.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • It is comforting to know Curry Leaf is stable and reliable.
  • They have to be losing money on the amount of chickpeas they serve.
  • I am happy to not fight my coworkers on getting lunch from Curry Leaf.

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Curry Leaf has boring and Americanized lunch options, and there are no specials to look forward to.
  • The chicken tikka masala adds no value.
  • I hate it when restaurants list an item on the menu and don’t include it. Where is my salad?

Curry Leaf, 99 Lexington Avenue at 27th Street, (212) 725-5558 or (212) 725-0059

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