I had heard many great things about Iyer's, and was not disappointed when I crossed the river one lunchtime last week to try it for the first time. The café was small, but the two staff members behind the counter filled the space with their friendliness and ease, and also their knowledge of the food they were serving. It was clear that many of the people eating alongside me, or coming in for take-outs, had become regular customers as a result. What was a dosa, I asked the waitress? I was given a full and helpful explanation, and there was no doubt that she knew what she was doing - and cared about it as well, which makes all the difference.
Service was swift. I chose an onion dosa, which is a pancake made from fermented rice, wrapped around red onions and spices. It was presented rolled up on a long plate, with sambar sauce and two varieties of chutney arranged along it in small serving dishes. From the first mouthful it was light, crisp, and completely filling, the coconut chutney adding particular zest without ever overpowering the flavour. I was conscious of eating it slowly, to make this experience last.
I followed that up with pistachio kulfi. There was no shortage of dessert options at Iyer's, where the space around the till was crowded with deliciously inventive cakes and cookies, but kulfi was something I had not tried before. When it came it looked like a small portion of ice cream, but it soon discovered that this dessert had a richer taste and deeper texture than the Western variety. Again I found myself savouring it.
Leaving Iyer's, I felt my hunger had been satisfied without any sense of having over-eaten. The bill came to €9.45, but a dosa on its own would have been an excellent lunch, for just €6.95. In short, it will not be long before I cross the river to Iyer's again, to be pleasantly surprised by all that it offers.
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