Tom Flint: The expanding Brighton institution

Sharing plates at the Curry Leaf Cafe
Sharing plates at the Curry Leaf Cafe

Brighton’s reputation as a serious food city is steadily becoming more indisputable. This is down to a lot of hard work from the chefs and restauranteurs who have made this city their home and are proud to shout about it.

One local chef, who was recognised at the Brighton Food Awards for his efforts on this front is Kanthi Kiran Thamma of Curry Leaf Café who, with the support of his business partner Euan Sey, has created one of Brighton’s most recognisable and successful restaurant brands.

The original restaurant on Ship Street has become a Brighton institution and the kiosk at Brighton station has really vastly improved the options for food on the move. They have now added a third prong to their Curry Leaf Café fork with the newly opened Kemptown Kitchen. The new venue is different from the original in that the food will be focussing on Indian small plates, street food and spiced cocktails. The open plan kitchen means that diners can get closer to the action, and the restaurant has a fun and social feel to it. They will also hold regular pop-up events exploring different cuisines and styles of cooking.

The restaurant launched on chef Kanthi’s birthday with a charity event for Fareshare Sussex. This was a sneak peek of what Kemptown Kitchen had to offer. We were treated to a great welcome cocktail made with Blackdown gin, one of the many local suppliers they champion, followed by a selection of dishes from the menu. The mini poppadums with dips were delightful, a masala dosa was a delicious example of Indian street food and finally a selection of curries. Each had its own distinctive style and spicing, and as with all Curry Leaf food, was divine. The event raised more than £600 for this fantastic local charity meaning the night was a success all round.

The first of their planned regular pop ups saw The Curry Leaf’s Roman Mikuliva, winner of Brighton Young Chef of the Year, take over the kitchen for the evening. Roman started off as a pot washer at Curry Leaf and he eventually worked his way up to the post of commis chef. Hailing from the Czech Republic he put on a menu inspired by his time working at Curry Leaf, his European travels and the food of his homeland. This was his first time leading a service, and Roman put out a great menu. The highlight was a spiced rack of lamb which was reminiscent of my favourite Curry Leaf dish, the Hyderabadi lamb chops. If you’ve not had them you need to resolve this immediately, they’re one of the best things I’ve eaten in the last year.

Kemptown Kitchen is a great addition to the Brighton restaurant scene, and it is great to see one of the city’s dining highlights open in Kemptown. The new concept means that it is a different experience to the other restaurant, they also do Deliveroo so you can eat Curry Leaf at home.

Curry Leaf Kemptown Kitchen

40-42 Upper St James’s St

01273 526910