“Experimental Indian” isn’t something you’d hear often around Sydney’s dining scene a few years ago. Now, it’s picking up, and a few inventive restaurants across the city are really highlighting a side of Indian cuisine that moves far away from excessively creamy butter chicken and puffy, indulgent cheese naan. Brick Lane is but the latest to join that inventive few, mirroring London’s popular restaurant of the same name, molded to fit Sydney sensibilities in an old terrace on the increasingly viable Stanley Street. Settling into its inner-city spot, Brick Lane seems to be focused on light and casual eats, flipping Indian influences to present something wholly original and exciting.
And Brick Lane’s penchant for experimental Indian, driven by chef Joey Ingram, is evident from the get-go. The samosas ($4.50 each) are flaky and textured, offered with three different fillings – duck & quail, trout & ginger, and greens & cheese – sitting on the ‘snacks’ side of the menu with a very interesting take on the ever-loved naan bread; here, it’s flipped into the naan-mi ($12.50), which is an essential order of crispy, buttery roti bread filled with roasted pork belly, spiced pate, spring onion and chilli; think of it as your Indian bahn-mi. Other snacks include the tuna cone ($5.50), small and delicate with raw tandoori tuna, avocado and crispy onion, though perhaps a bit too bite-sized to make it anything other than a good pairing with a cocktail like the fantastic mahatma sunnies ($17), which is built with gin, lemongrass and szechuan, lime juice and soda.
Moving down to the ‘lighter bites’ brings you to the likes of the scallops & kingfish ceviche ($18), a dish which mirrors the overall approach of Brick Lane. It’s light, refreshing and bursting with flavour, well-balanced with a blend of citrus cured seafood, young coconut, avocado, spring onion and crispy squid ink. That kind of fresh approach continues with the king prawn curry leaf ($10), turning up the heat a bit as a grilled prawn is drizzled with a rich coconut curry with spiced basmati, all on a betel leaf.
Though seafood is most definitely a major focus for the menu, the meat dishes remain the highlight. The ducking awesome ($18) dish doesn’t need much added flavour with the intense sweet and spicy glazed duck breast tasting fantastic, spiced up with some cashew korma with paw paw and shallots. Even better is the lamb shoulder ($30), one of the more substantial servings here, slow-cooked with curried chickpeas, spinach and sweet mint yoghurt.
Desserts are unadorned and also leap far away from demands of indulgence, offering fruity flavours like the watermelon granita ($14) with vanilla custard, candied lemon and rose jelly, or the superior banana tapioca ($14) with coconut, lime and macadamia ice cream. Don’t think you’ll need much stomach space for these treats; their more palate-cleansers than anything else, capping off a mod-Indian feast with pleasant, lingering flavours that would pair up well with one of the many gin based cocktails that dominate Brick Lane’s drink list.
Address: 75 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Contact: 02 8964 9318
Hours: Tues-Fri 12pm-2pm (lunch); Mon-Fri 5:30pm-10pm (dinner); Sat 6pm-10pm (dinner)