Finally a fearless Dublin dosa restaurant, with sambar that's worthy of applause

The words "Andhra Bhavan" would delight anyone who's in the know about Delhi's food culture. State Bhavans, or government-run institutions dedicated to every Indian state, are home to canteens that serve cuisine native to those very places. Their existence places Delhi very high on the list of cities with easy access to regional Indian food, and while all of these canteens are praiseworthy in their own right, Andhra Bhavan being the favourite is an unspoken agreement between locals.

So, imagine my excitement when I logged into Deliveroo to see an Andhra Bhavan listed under places that would deliver to my house in Dublin. Before I had clicked on it to see the menu, the first visual that came to my mind was of staff doling out unlimited refills of the staple thaali that's served at the one in Delhi. While this one did have three types of thaali, the contents for each of them were a bit different.

The menu is otherwise extensive, and so it might take anyone a while to decide on their order. It was easy for me to make the decision to visit the restaurant two days after I saw it on Deliveroo, though, even after having ordered in rasam-idli, medu vada and vegetable manchurian that very evening.

It was the first time I was able to find rasam on a menu in Dublin, and I'm pleased to confirm that it was as peppery and tart as all good rasam should be. The idlis (three in a portion) were fluffy and able to absorb enough rasam to render them fragile as soon as they entered my mouth. My love for manchurian is now more public than I'd have liked it to be, but the upside is that it entitles me to say this is the closest Dubliners have ever had the chance to be to real manchurian (the disclaimer being that I am referring to kofta-like vegetable manchurian balls here, and not gobi/cauliflower manchurian, which a couple of other restaurants in the city make very well).

Sambar with drumsticks is a win

The medu vada is hands down the best in Dublin: a crisp outer covering, but nearly as soft as the idli on the inside. I give the sambar a 10/10 too, not just because its consistency and spice proportions are flawless, but also since it’s the only one in Dublin that has drumsticks floating in it. I had always given South Indian restaurants in Ireland the benefit of the doubt for not using drumsticks in their sambar because the vegetable is indigenous to South Asia, but Andhra Bhavan has made it clear that they won't have people eating faux sambar-soaked chunks of boiled carrot and tomato.

It's easy to find the restaurant premises endearing, with cheerful murals on the walls and a tree sprouting gracefully from the middle of one of the tables. I'd also recommend visiting for those who want to try the dosa, as home-delivered dosa is never quite the same. A glass of rose lassi might be a pleasant way to start a meal here, given that it has a disciplined amount of rose syrup added to it and doesn't feel overly sugary.

The chaat counter wasn't running on the evening we went, but the staff agreed to bring a portion of pani puri to our table anyway. Thrilled to taste pani with the signature, throat-irritating kick that's otherwise very rare to find in Dublin, we were slightly disappointed with how the puris were filled. They could have used slightly more potato and a lot more tamarind chutney.

The vada pav looked marvellous when it arrived, but the coriander chutney was scarcely used, and there was no trace of the quintessential dry garlic chutney that distinguishes vada pav from regular aloo bonda. And so it felt incomplete, despite the deep-fried potato filling being exemplary.

Our slight disappointment with the vada pav subsided immediately after the dosas arrived. Some of the most popular places for dosa in Dublin don't have the onion rava variety—which people in India consider commonplace—on their menu. While the one at Andhra Bhavan comes with chopped onion hidden inside it instead of mixed and cooked with the batter as per the traditional recipe, it still qualifies as good dosa. The excellent sambar and three types of chutneys (coconut, peanut and ginger) served with it are more than a saving grace.

The onion rava masala dosa

If the onion rava masala dosa is good, the gun powder masala dosa is impressive. It's appropriately thin without being limp, and the inside is slathered with gun powder that's assertive about how spicy it must be. The potato filling is another 10/10 score to acknowledge.

Order the semiya payasam—which Indians from the North of the country might better know as kheer—only if you adore cardamom. Fortunately for me, the vermicelli dessert tastes ideal only when generously flavoured with cardamom, and so I even saved some to take away and have as a sneaky treat for breakfast the next day. It was served hot, in a bowl much bigger than we had expected, and has been the only €4.99 dessert I have been able to order during my time living in Dublin.

Semiya payasam (kheer), flavoured with cardamom and served hot

Andhra Bhavan has only been open for a month at this point. The Binge 3.5-star rating (that has previously elicited adorable requests for detailed feedback from a couple of restaurants) is only indicative of where they're currently at with a few kinks like prolonged serving times and hit-and-miss condiment use. However, the good news is that the minor imperfections here don't stem from a lack of understanding of authenticity, but rather come from them being in their warm-up period. I predict it won't be too long before they've successfully ironed these issues out; they're already able to show other, unjustifiably loved dosa makers in Dublin how it's done.

Andhra Bhavan
Bill for two 
Rose lassi€4.99
Pani puri (6 pieces)€6.99
Vada pav (2 pieces)€7.99
Onion rava masala dosa€12.99
Gun powder masala dosa€12.99
Semiya Payasam€4.99
Ground Floor, 85 Marlborough Street
North City
Dublin 1