At the termination of the 7 Train and a good 15 minute hike through the residential blocks of Flushing, you will find a quiet and unassuming storefront serving “Authentic Sri Lankan & South Indian Cuisine.” I discovered the place when I came to check out Southern Spice, situated directly across the street. The Tamil lettering on the awning of Bownie Restaurant suggested I was in for some fairly spicy fare, and I was ready for a blast of heat on a cold, wet, and generally miserable day.
Inside, a couple tables filled with Sri Lankan men watched a Bollywood film on the flat screen TV. Aside from that one amenity, Bownie is spare and basic—expect food served in plastic, take-out containers; plastic cutlery; fluorescent lighting; but also pleasant and prompt counter service. We braved the weather for the food, anyway, and the menu looked enticing with its Idli’s and Dosas and Idiappam. When I visit a place for the first time, however, I like to go with the most basic dish to see if going further is even worth it. So we ordered the rice and curry lunch special which came with chicken curry, goat curry, dahl (lentils), eggplant, and rice (all at $6.50 each). We got a side of shrimp curry on top of that as well as a Mysore Masala Dosa.
The curries were decent—nothing to write home about, but not bad either. I think what threw me off a bit was their sweetness, probably derived from tamarind, as well as the fact that they lacked any note of heat. I don’t know, maybe it’s me. Perhaps a lifetime of eating chilies has singed my taste buds, but when I see Tamil or South Indian I obviously expect to feel the burn, and I feel robbed if I don’t. The dahl was definitely up to par as was the eggplant curry, but as Sri Lankans often do, they overcooked the shrimp. The Mysore Masala Dosa, with its potato and green chili stuffing oozing out of a thin sourdough pancake, my friend found too spicy, but I found just right. Next time I find myself in this neck of the woods in Queens, I will have to stick with the South Indian fare.
143-05 45th Ave
Flushing, NY 11355
open daily 10 AM – 10 PM
free delivery – Flushing area (minimum $25 order)