I normally confine my Tripadvisor activities to hotel reviews, finding it difficult to write anything meaningful and different about restaurants – let’s face it, you only need to take a quick skim through the first few reviews of any given eatery to work out whether it’s for you or not.
My first visit to Plymouth and a mid-week visit to the Eastern Eye persuaded me to make an exception though… Colleagues recommended the place and, despite the eye watering pink and blue illuminated interior glaring out onto the rain-slicked pavements on that miserable Wednesday evening, I entered enthusiastically. The fact that the place was busy in the middle of the week was a very positive sign and I quickly saw why when I opened the thick tome that is the Eastern Eye’s menu. Some 150 dishes greet the diner and it can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially when you consider that none of these resemble a korma, madras, balti, vinderloo or any of the other staples that you find in nearly every Indian restaurant in the land. Instead you are met by a library of meals that you are unlikely to have ever even heard of, each helpfully described to aid you in your selection. I was immediately drawn to the dishes using barbecued garlic and narrowed down my choice that way, finally settling on a lamb recipe incorporating that ingredient and fresh oranges, for the simple reason that I’d never had them in a curry before. The name of the dish escapes me now and I can’t find it on the restaurant’s website, but if the idea floats your boat you’ll find it somewhere between number 70 and 90 on the menu (if you are able to bear the weight of the thing before your wrists give out under the strain…). The very friendly and efficient waitress told me that it was about as hot as a madras, which sounded exactly up my strasse – I didn’t want to go too hot lest I end up experiencing a very different sort of “eastern eye” upon returning to my hotel, even if I do like a bit of sweat on my brow with sub-continental cuisine. A brinzal bhaji, a naan and another beer was pretty much all I needed to make my evening complete.
Our meals arrived in fairly short order – not so quickly as to have been reheated, but not so tardy that we would start to wonder whether we had been completely forgotten – and it all looked very nice, although the glass serving bowls did remind me of a Pyrex casserole dish. The brinzal bhaji was very good: light, but packed with flavour and with the aubergine finely diced to avoid that slightly slimy consistency that puts many people off. The naans were perfectly puffed and seemed almost weightless. My lamb dish was perfectly acceptable, with the orange and roasted garlic flavours coming through nicely, although it was not nearly as punchy on the spice level as I would have expected and the lamb was, frankly, overcooked.
The proprietor, a smiling livewire who I now know as Kalam, visited our table to ensure we were happy and I took the opportunity to ask for some chopped green chillies to add to my dish to give it a little more pep. Kalam took one look at the dish, shook his head and insisted that he would personally re-cook my dish from scratch, vanishing to the kitchen before I had a chance to do the English thing of saying, “No, it’s fine, really...”
I was very pleased he did, because the masterpiece of Asian cooking that he brought back was absolutely sublime and bore no resemblance to the kitchen’s first effort. Tender, medium-rare pieces of leg steak bathed in a rich, deeply-spiced yet citrusy masala peppered with whole green and dried red finger chillies and liberally adorned with fresh chopped coriander brought my taste buds well and truly to life. I can say quite categorically that it was the best curry I have ever had. With a degree of generosity that surprised even me, I allowed my colleagues to try the dish and, although the spice level was a little high for their delicate palates (aw, bless), they did agree that this was a very special curry indeed.
Kalam came to check that he had performed adequately and I was pleased to tell him that the dish was simply astonishing. He confided that he had taken one look at my dish and decided that he wasn’t happy with how it looked, saying that it all appeared a bit rushed, and that it was in no way reflective of the usual performance of the kitchen.
During our discussion Kalam told me that he makes all his spice mixes, masalas and gravies from scratch and it is obvious that he takes a great deal of pride in his cuisine and the Eastern Eye. My advice is to go there – order whatever you fancy, and if it isn’t what you were hoping for, ask for Kalam. He will make sure you leave full and very, very happy.
Thank you for your attention. That is all. Please carry on.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.