Review: Colorful Fist of Curry focuses on flavor

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

It was one of the quickest turnarounds in restaurant history. After serving perch dinners as the Huron Room in mid-February, the eatery re-emerged just three nights later as Fist of Curry, with a completely different menu and decor. The proprietors and their crew did the work themselves in a 72-hour scramble.

Les Molnar, one of the principals, says that because they had been planning the change quietly for months and also because they didn’t want to lose the staff with a long closure, they were able to pull it off in record time with an assist from the staff, who pitched in to make it happen.

Anyone who visited the predecessor in the space won’t recognize it. Gone are the water blues and whites. It’s now done up in sunny yellow, orange and hot pink, with bright yellow cushions on the bar stools and on chairs pulled up to rustic wood-topped tables around the room.

Chef Molnar, his wife, Jessica, and Jacques and Christine Driscoll, who are also involved in Johnny Noodle King and Green Dot Stables, thought the local restaurant scene, as vibrant as it is, was lacking when it came to curries, Molnar says. They leaned not just on India for inspiration, but also from several countries from Jamaica to Japan in creating the menu.

It is admirably focused, brief and to the point, just one page that leads off with “snacks” some of which are sharable, such as the crisp curry fried cauliflower breaded with rice flour, dappled with scallions and cilantro and finished with a sweet-and-spicy glaze. Beer cheese soup gets its Asian spin from garam masala, the Indian blend of many spices.

Curry dishes among the seven entree choices all come with a heap of fluffy basmati rice and they include tikka masala, chunks of chicken thigh cooked on skewers in a spicy sauce, Japanese pork katsu with pickled daikon radish in a medium-spicy dipping sauce and a mystery dish called ?Curry-Osity?, which changes weekly.

The dessert list — no curry here — is short and sweet: roasted banana and soft-serve ice cream. The bar emphasizes beer, with 20 in bottles and cans and nine on tap.

Molnar and company have done a good job of coming up with a concept that isn’t duplicated around town and fleshing it out with style. Even those who think they don’t like curry will find something here.

Fist of Curry

2547 Bagley at 18th, Detroit

(313) 265-3325

Rating:★★ 1/2

Hours: 3-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat, noon-10 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Appetizers, most sharable, $6-$8, entrees $12-$16, sides $2, dessert $3.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Yes

Noise level: Moderate

Wheelchair access: No barriers

Parking: Rear lot and street

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good

★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent

★★★★ — outstanding