For the past year or so, the parking lot at 607 Andrew Jackson Way has mostly been empty. On Sunday around noon though, the lot was filled with cars.
Locals had flocked there to check out The Curry, a new Indian restaurant that opened this weekend in the building last home to pizzeria Mario’s Five Points, which shuttered last October, and for decades housed country-cooking fave Mullins Restaurant, which closed in 2014.
The Curry’s logo and fuchsia front signage look like they could be for a new social media app. Meanwhile inside the restaurant, a fusion of traditional Indian cuisine is served in all its aromatic glory. Hence the eatery’s tagline “Modern Indian.” It’s a perfect fit for Five Points, the Huntsville area known for its charming neighborhoods mixing historic homes and bohemian funkiness.
The locals have quickly responded. During its first weekend, The Curry served more than 300 guests, says the restaurant’s manager and social media coordinator, Lilian German. She says The Curry’s team is “overjoyed” by the initial response. “Five Points is a community that supports one another, values progressive thinking and is rich with history,” German says. “Bishop’s Flowers (a nearby florist) even came by before our opening weekend to drop off flowers.”
Buffets are a staple of Indian restaurants, and there’s a reason. That serving configuration offers easy culinary tourism through exotic delicious foods average American dinners have a limited familiarity with. Even if one’s an Indian super-fan, it’s just a great way to sample these vibrant flavors.
Yes, The Curry’s buffet, served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Sundays, includes flavorful versions of Indian greatest-hits like chicken tikka masala and saag paneer. But you’ll also find a rotating selection of spectacular off-menu items like peri-peri wings (think peppery tandoori) and tawa chicken cafreal (an awesome green-chili covered mix of bird, peppers, tomatoes, etc.). “India is not just one style or one type of people,” German says. “It’s a country rich in diversity. Every weekend we will be highlighting different dishes.”
Of course, The Curry isn’t Huntsville’s first Indian restaurant. There’s regional chain Sitar on Jordan Lane and Indian Kitchen on Whitesburg Drive and recently departed Ruchi on Memorial Parkway. All solid joints. But The Curry, with its fresh flavors and approach, clearly levels-up local Indian options.
The head chef? Linil Raman, a South India native whose culinary journey in America took him through several states over the years before arriving at The Curry. Raman is also a part-owner. German says the other two owners prefer to remain private, but she will say The Curry is the lone restaurant with which the three owners are involved.
The Curry’s guest capacity is around 200. Inside there are two dining rooms, including a front area outfitted with a black & white mural depicting yesterday local fixtures like the Whitesburg Drive-In movie theater.
A neon sign in a hallway between dining rooms and the back banquet area opened weekends for the buffet line reads, “Less Worry More Curry.” The restaurant’s current hours of operation: Tuesday through Thursday lunch 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and dinner 5-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and dinner 5-9:30 p.m.; and Sunday 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.
The menu spans bowls (chili gobi, etc., around $13 each); fragrant spiced biryani (veggie, chicken, goat, etc., $14-$17); vegan curries (dal panchamal, dal makhana, etc., around $14); traditional carne dishes (butter chicken, lamb madras, etc., $15-$19); tandoor (mustard prawns, shahi salmon tikka, etc. $15.50 and up) and beyond. Indian breads like naan, as well as trad drinks and desserts too. The complete menu is available at thecurryrestaurant.com.
German says The Curry has already made adjustments since their opening weekend. Those tweaks include revising menu descriptions to include more dietary-restriction info, reorganizing the kitchen’s expo line and additional training on the handheld tablets servers use to print guests’ bills.
The Curry currently employs a staff of around a dozen. But like many pandemic-era restaurants, The Curry is looking to fill out their ranks with more hosts, dishwashers, prep cooks, expos and food runners. Interested parties can apply in-person or via the restaurant’s website.
German’s Huntsville service-industry background began nine years ago at Southside staple Angel’s Island Coffee. She holds a business management degree with digital marketing specialty and most recently worked at downtown English-style pub The Poppy & Parliament.
German’s Indian go-to’s veer toward vegan/vegetarian dishes and desserts. Veggie biryani. Masala dosa, a crispy crepe. Gulab jamun confections. “Indian food in particular is an incredible adventure,” she says, “because it’s not just a way to travel to India but a way to travel through time. It absolutely fascinates me that these recipes go back to ancient times.” For example, she says kheer, a rice-pudding-ish dessert The Curry serves, is thought to be one of the world’s oldest recipes, dating back to 400 B.C. “How cool is that?”
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