Brick Lane, an open space spilling light and warmth onto Stanley St. in Darlinghurst. As I sipped a refreshing watermelon mocktail and waited for the rest of the people to arrive I looked around the space. It’s an Indian restaurant, but nothing about it is exactly what you’d expect. The decoration had obviously been meticulously attended to with a comfortable yet eclectic space in mind, and they succeeded, with warm-toned lighting and murals on the walls, and surprising decorations tucked into the corners.
The food itself was astounding. A modern, much lighter take on what we in Sydney generally associate with the cuisine. The first starter that came out was a tandoori tuna tartare, served in a crunchy wonton cone and topped with crispy onion. Each one came out perched upright in individual glass jars filled with salt– setting the bar high for the following dishes both in terms of flavour and presentation. The tuna was followed by duck and quail samosas. The novelty of the duck flavours in a samosa really grabbed me. The samosas themselves were crispy, and delicious but not too oily, and the creamy smoked eggplant raita (as well as the sambal on the tables, which I applied liberally to everything) really made the flavours pop.
The next round of dishes saw a scallop and kingfish ceviche — topped with squid ink batter and interspersed with sliced grapes. I was wary of the grapes but they were just the right level of sweet for the kingfish, with the batter adding a nice crunch. The succulent king prawns that followed popped out of their shells easily, everyone enthusiastically wrapping them up with the coconut curry and spiced basmati in the soft betel leaves they came with. As we all licked our fingers, the main courses arrived. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked lamb shoulder with curried chickpeas, offset by a light mint yoghurt. The spice-rubbed tuna steak was firm and meaty, the crunchy lentils providing the layers of texture and flavour we’d by now come to expect.
The quality of the ingredients, the loving preparation, and the thought and expertise which had clearly gone into the design and construction of these dishes was astounding. The desserts did not disappoint. A light watermelon granita was made exceptional by candied lemon and vanilla custard. The banana tapioca pudding with macadamia ice cream was my favourite — creamy, textured, and nutty, though I probably wouldn’t be able to eat it if I’d had a full portion of the lamb which was also quite rich.
Foodies in Sydney tend to sharpen their palates on the exceptional food we have available here, and Brick Lane has risen to the challenge of offering something new, challenging, and wholly enjoyable. This is food to get excited about.
Liv S. is a creature of warm weather, negronis, and writing. She can usually be found elbow deep in a pile of chicken wings. Check out her musings @callmememphisjones.