Review: Bayleaf Brasserie, Crows Nest

I work in St Leonards, a mere stone’s throw from one of the best suburban dining streets in Sydney – Willoughby Road in Crow’s Nest. Yet because I tend to bring leftovers to work every day for lunch in a vain attempt to be frugal and save money (lost cause, I spend the money I save during the week when I dine out on the weekend!), I rarely go out for lunch in the area.

However, many of the restaurants on my “Good Food Under $30” list are actually in Crows Nest – Bayleaf Brasserie being one of them. When K and I saw a deal for Bayleaf Brasserie on one of the daily deal websites ($19 for lunch for two people), we decide to splurge and meet up for lunch during a workday.

Pappadums with beetroot yoghurt dip
Pappadums with beetroot raita

We start with the raita as our entree. The raita changes daily, and we have beetroot raita on the day that we go. It’s lovely and tart, and goes well with the cumin seeds in the pappadums which are crisp and freshly baked.

Batter-fried banana chilli stuffed with paneer, apricots and served with apricot chutney, $11
Batter-fried banana chilli stuffed with paneer, apricots and served with apricot chutney, $11

Since splurging is the order of the day, we decide to order an entree to share on top of the terms of the daily deal voucher. The dish is beautifully presented, and I’m surprised by how well balanced the batter of the banana chillis is – it’s just the right amount! Our chillis were stuffed with paneer and sultanas, rather than paneer and apricots, but this switch actually worked quite well as the sweeter sultanas managed to temper the spiciness of the accompanying apricot chutney sauce.

Rice and raita
Rice and roti

The accompanying rice and roti arrive, and I struggle to keep myself from immediately devouring the entire basket. Some people prefer a crispier roti – K for example, prefers the flaky type that you can crumple up and dip into sauces and curries. However, I prefer a more doughy roti (just like the way I prefer a softer white bread), and this roti has just the right amount of doughy texture and chargrilled flavours to be perfect.

Mughlai Chicken: marinated chicken thigh fillets cooked in a sauce of cashew, almond and saffron, $18.90
Mughlai Chicken: marinated chicken thigh fillets cooked in a sauce of cashew, almond and saffron, $18.90

One of the mains we order on the deal is the mughlai chicken – chosen as a milder option and something a bit out of the ordinary standard curries. The slight nutty sweetness of the sauce is amazing, and it’s definitely the type of dish that you want to savour to let the flavours develop on your tongue as you get a spicy and complex mouthfeel after ten seconds.

Bafat: diced leg of lamb 'dum cooked' with cassia, cloves, black pepper & tamarind, $18.90
Bafat: diced leg of lamb ‘dum cooked’ with cassia, cloves, black pepper & tamarind, $18.90

Our second choice for a main dish is slightly more traditional – a lamb curry that’s just bursting with different spices and flavours. The lamb was extremely tender and succulent, and had really absorbed the flavours of the curry extremely well. A great option – and I see from Urbanspoon reviews that this is actually served in a pie-style dum during the evening.

Overall I rate Bayleaf Brasserie an 8 out of 10 – it definitely stands out among the various Indian restaurants in Sydney in offering more complex and sophisticated menu options outside of the usual Butter Chickens and Lamb Kormas. It is a little pricey for a mid-week lunch though, considering the range of restaurants of the same calibre in the Crows Nest region.

Bayleaf Indian on Urbanspoon

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