I have been eating at various NYC Indian restaurants for years, in search of a decent meal with real spices at a reasonable price. Tonight, my search led me to Brick Lane on East 6th b/w 1st & 2nd.
Brick Lane has been reviewed - both here & in printed publications - as a "real" Indian spot, where the flavor is as important as the authenticity. What this translates to, in the owners' minds, is a clean, inviting space with subtle techno-Indian music and outstanding food. Portions are still large enough to share (3 of us shared 2 appetizers & 2 entrees, with plenty to spare) and prices are still reasonable ($80 for the 3 of us, including tax & tip & drinks), but the food actually tastes like something about which the chef cares.
My friends & I shared the Lasuni Gobi - steamed chunks of fresh cauliflower, drenched in a mildly spicy tomato-garlic sauce and baked until crisp around the edges. This dish, alone, was addictive and worth the trip to 6th Street. The veggie pakoras were slightly less inspired, but still fried to perfection and flavorful. I just wish fried food items were a little bit healthier . . . I'd feel less guilty about scarfing them down!
For entrees, we shared a salmon mahti (sp?) special, which consisted of large chunks of fresh salmon, cast-iron-skilleted with garlic and lemon juice. Much like a Mexican fajita, the pan arrived with bright green, red & yellow bell peppers, yellow onions and plenty of fish to satisfy more than our table. Everything was vibrant and spectacular, from the presentation to the taste. And for $15, it was the best salmon I've ever been served in this city.
The other entree was the lamb jalfrezi - an intoxicating blend of sundried tomatoes, various bell peppers, and onions, all in a tomato-based sauce. The lamb was fragrant and not too gamy, while the sauce didn't drown the meat or overpower the dish. With some garlic naan and aloo paratha, we were sopping up the pepper sauce until we literally couldn't stuff any more down our gullets!
Brick Lane also has traditional Phaal on the menu, for which the following disclaimer is listed: "An excrutiatingly hot curry, more pain & sweat than flavor. For our customers who do this on a dare, we will require you to sign a disclaimer not holding us liable for any physical or emotional damage after eating this curry. If you do manage to finish your serving of curry, a bottle of beer is on us."
How could you NOT love this place?!
Appetizers average $5 and entrees $15. All are shareable portions and it is recommended that you eat slowly so you don't suffer the same fate as me . . . A severely bloated stomach, about 2 hours after your meal ends. In the case of Brick Lane, it's an uncomfortable reminder of the excess in which you partook.