Occupation: Research Scientist
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: DOSA on Fillmore
Reviewed DOSA on Fillmore: Thursday, July 14, 2011
For our official Check, Please! Bay Area dinner at our chosen restaurant, Dosa, we decided to do the unthinkable in the name of research: no dosas! Nevertheless, my husband and I were delighted to find we were just as satisfied with our dining experience even when we bypassed the restaurant’s signature dish. We ate dinner on a Thursday night to avoid crowds and were still impressed by the amount of people there and even had a small wait despite reservations (about five minutes).
We always take advantage to try a new cocktail at the bar while we wait. This time we ordered gin and tonics. This, however, was by no means your average gin and tonic. The bartender informed us that their gin was specially made for Dosa, and infused with “Indian botanicals,” such as cumin and coriander. Indeed, there were hints and wafts of Indian spices that proved subtle, yet tantalizing. To top it off, the gin was mixed with house-made tonic water (giving the drink a unique amber glow) and garnished traditionally with lime. It was by far the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had.
To begin our meal, we ordered a watermelon, paneer, and sprouted mung bean salad. The watermelon and paneer were perfectly cubed, and the paneer was lighted toasted, which contrasted nicely with the sweet watermelon. The mung beans added crunch and the almost imperceptible citrus dressing brought all the flavors together. This salad was a unique blend of seasonal flavors and traditional ingredients and textures, a testament to Dosa’s unique appeal. Next, we tried idli sambar, rice patties served in traditional spicy lentil soup. The rice patties were plain, steamed, and slightly puffy, providing the perfect vehicle to soak up the powerful flavors of sambar (a favorite of mine). For our main entrée, we opted for Tamil vegetable curry with the suggested coconut rice. The curry might have been similar to the typical northern curries if it were not for the coconut milk, which was reminiscent of Thai flavors. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and though the dish was delectable, I will probably go back to ordering my usual dosas at my next meal.
Interestingly, our meal seemed to pair perfectly with both the earthy red Pinotage my husband ordered, and the dry, crisp Riesling that I had chosen. For dessert, we chose ras malai, a traditional paneer patty soaked in cream, cardamom, and rose water. We could also not resist chocolate chai gelato, which was made in-house. The chocolate gelato conspicuously lacked overt chai flavor, so I would probably try another dessert next time. The ras malai was both rich and refreshing, and I was happy to try a traditional southern Indian dessert. The server made sure to give us extra large portions since we were sharing, making sure we left stuffed, yet happy.
As always, the service was friendly and prompt, and the magnificent décor, which is both expansive yet intimate, is part of why we love Dosa. I highly recommend Dosa to anyone curious about southern Indian cuisine, or any lover of food. You won’t be disappointed!
Occupation: Football Coach and CEO
Favorite Restaurant: Sapore Italiano Ristorante
Reviewed DOSA on Fillmore: Friday, July 15, 2011
We left Burlingame on the peninsula about 6:10pm on Friday night. With no Giants home game scheduled, we thought this would be ample time to arrive for our 7pm reservation. A slight drizzle severely slowed traffic into the city. We called to explain our probable delay and were told they could not hold our table and would seat us as soon as possible upon our arrival. Friday the 15th was the night of the Harry Potter premiere, and the parking facility for the theater complex across from the restaurant was full as was every parking space within the distant horizon. We found another parking facility four blocks away and eventually found a space. We arrived about 7:40 and were seated about 15 minutes later. Some of the patrons were costumed in Harry Potter attire, confirming the parking difficulty.
The room is large and open with tasteful accents of the Indian culture yet not too ornate. The background music was a bit loud with a booming base beat. Combined with the noise level and the closeness of the tables, conversation was a challenge. This contributed to difficulties with concentrating on the menu, something that is required due to the unique cuisine therein. Although I investigated the menu on the Dosa website, we asked our server Mary Lynn for her recommendations for first time patrons. Mary Lynn was very charming and made us feel welcomed and gave us her two-minute education and recommendations, suggesting we share portions of appetizers and entrees to sample the flavors of the various dishes.
My wife ordered a glass of Chardonnay, and I ordered a Ginger Ante, a rum drink with Ginger. The appetizers — a crispy fish pakora, a deep-fried fish with two sauces and a Vada Pav, a veggie slider with sauce and gunpowder — were a great way to start our introduction to this type of food. I chose the Vada Pav to experience the gunpowder concoction, which, Mary Lynn explained, is a sauce and a powder that you mix to create a paste to plaster the slider. Mary Lynn assured me the gunpowder moniker sounded hotter than it is. I used all of the gunpowder to make the paste, consequently requiring a second ginger type drink, a Batsman, after consuming the first to extinguish the flames. One entrée, a Samosas North, was an infused caramelized onion-batter, presented as a crepe with a dipping sauce, and it was excellent. This was the highlight of our dining experience. Our other entrée, a Tamil vegetable curry, was also tasty.
Mary Lynn helped us to decide to have desserts by suggesting the coconut custard flan and the just-added-to-the-menu chocolate cake with the chefs recommended after-dinner sherry. Expecting a large piece of chocolate cake, the portion was a small oval as was the flan, just enough to end our meal. The only semi-negative was the unique coffee drink my wife had and did not care for. Mary Lynn explained it was a different type of coffee and usually takes some getting used to. The service was excellent with staff members catering to our needs in a timely fashion.
This is a distinct dining experience with a friendly atmosphere and close table neighbors enticing social contact. Additional favorite menu choices were recommended by the patrons at our adjoining tables. We look forward to trying some of their suggestions and will definitely return to DOSA on a non-movie premier evening.
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Favorite Restaurant: Gather
Reviewed DOSA on Fillmore: Thursday, July 21, 2011
As luck would have it, my friend and I found parking right around the corner from Dosa on the street, so we didn’t have to opt for a parking garage – always a good start to an evening, especially driving into the city from Oakland. The restaurant decor is unexpected. It has sort of a night-clubby atmosphere with high ceilings, dramatic lighting, dark wood, and music playing with a thumping base rhythm. The hostess who greeted us was warm and friendly and promptly seated us at our table against the north wall of the restaurant. Our waitress was just as congenial as she passed us our menus and took our orders for a glass of wine (Grüner-Veltliner).
My friend is a frequent dining companion, and we share similar taste in food and wine and find plenty to chat about, so we were primed for a fun evening. As we perused the menu, we decided that we didn’t want too heavy of a meal, so we asked our waitress for her opinion on which of the many masalas to order. She recommended and we opted for the spring masala, which is a traditional dosa with peas, carrots, cabbage, and red onion. We also ordered the grilled calamari, the spiced lamb chops and the Hyderabadi chicken biryani.
We were very pleased with the pacing and order that the meal was served, one dish at a time. It allowed us to savor the flavors of each dish and not feel rushed or worried over our food getting cold. The spiced lamb was the highlight of the meal — tender and juicy, I’m sure it had been marinated in yogurt and spices for hours. It was a bit pricey but we’re glad we ordered it. The spring masala was tasty with firm and fresh vegetables and obviously super fresh spices. In fact, the spices in each dish were truly tasty and memorable. With the help of our knowledgeable waitress, I think we did a good job ordering and had a meal with good variety without it being too heavy.
The dining room was filled with a mixture of larger size groups and couples obviously on dates. And I would say it is the perfect atmosphere to celebrate an occasion with friends or to feel like you are out on the town.