Curry Leaf on Brighton Rd, Elwood

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By Mantis Kane


A good Indian is a rarity in Melbourne. Not an actual Indian – there are plenty of lovely Indian people all over the place – I am referring to the cuisine.

The Curry Leaf opened its doors way back, pre-internet, and is now institutionalised as the go to venue for South and North Indian food. They have all the necessary touch points: a tandoori oven, a kitchen full of real Indians, ethnic decorations, a head chef who learned the tricks of the trade at five star hotels and even a testimonial from MasterChef’s Matt Preston.

However, their Instagram account has about ten followers. Alarm bells? Quite the opposite.

For me this more a comforting endorsement that they’ve dismissed the need for fancy social media marketing and concentrated on what they do best.

The menu options could be deemed intimidating, especially for those unfamiliar with the exotic jargon. Thankfully, the staff are well versed in weighing up customers’ aptitude, stepping in to assist accordingly. We were correctly assessed as a mixed ability table, and got the full lecture.

All the dishes are spiced per tolerance, rating from one to ten. I was tempted to make up for my culinary ignorance with some bravado, throw down the gauntlet and demand an 11, hotter than hot. Fire up the security cameras, this could be good viewing – an impromptu Jackass style chilli competition. But no, I saw sense, and opted to sacrifice the spectacle for my ability to function the following day. Straight down the middle – a number five, thank you please.

The food was fantastic. For the affordable price point you get glimmers of fine dining experimentation, traditional Indian and vegetarian/vegan options. The standout dish is the soft shell crab entree. Deep fried and lightly spiced, it is a clever version of its Chinese counterpart.

The Curry Leaf does away with the notion that Indian food is an exercise in masking rough cuts of meat with pungent thick sauce. The finesse and complicated flavours are evident throughout. Highly recommended.


Curry Leaf

99-101 Brighton Road Elwood VIC

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