PHOTOGRAPHS BY BECCA DILLEY / ILLUSTRATIONS BY WACSO
The following review comes from the November 18, 2022 edition of the Heavy Table newsletter via Patreon. It ran alongside four other reviews: Tii Cup, Zantigo, Pink Tea, and Sawatdee Thai. If you’d like to read the Lyndale Avenue Checklist archive and receive a Minnesota-focused food newsletter every Friday morning, back the Heavy Table on Patreon.
Ah, Long John Silver’s. That unmistakable boardwalk entrance with its teetering round dock pilings. The warm glow of light from the portal windows beaconing you inside. As a disillusioned adult, we know those LJS’s were designed for cost efficiency so they could be easily stamped out across the US. But to the imagination of a naive six year old, going into Long John Silvers felt like visiting some old sea shanty on the end of a foggy pier.
There were no portal windows in the former Long John Silver’s building that Dosa South Indian Grill now occupies. This one felt like a later-model version of the franchise after corporate tightened their belts on the design budget. But the boardwalk was still there. And it was hard not to smile while revisiting those nostalgic childhood memories.
What was even more heartening however was to discover that this building, originally designed to shovel low-grade fried fish down the gullets of the masses, had finally found its true purpose in life. Namely, as home to an independently owned family restaurant serving truly fantastic South Indian food. Sometimes the universe has plans that corporate could never have predicted. – M.C. Cronin
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is a venerable Indian restaurant called Punjabi Dhaba. It looks and feels like a not-remarkably-clean Indian highway service station, and it serves some of the best north Indian food we’ve had, on metal trays. Dosa South Indian Grill hails from another part of the subcontinent, and the aesthetic is more “former Long John Silver’s knockoff” than “truck stop,” but there’s a similar lack of decor and polish and – joyfully – a similar flat out deliciousness of the menu. This is easily one of the best Indian spots we’ve been to in Minnesota, including the relatively nearby Tandoor, which we raved up in the May 21, 2021 edition of this newsletter.
The mutton dosa ($17) was a picture perfect specimen of its species, and we’ve been eating a lot of dosas recently, including the very tasty ones at Momo Dosa and the serviceable one at India Bazaar‘s in-house restaurant. This dosa had a remarkably nice chew to it, an even application of savory, elegant filling, and a lovely selection of three housemade (to our palates, anyway) dipping opportunities. These ranged from an almost marinara-like spiced tomato paste to the classic dosa-complementing sambar soup to an herb-forward coconut-based dip that was close to but a little more assertive than a yogurt sauce.
For $9, we were really pleased we got the Vada, three savory doughnuts that arrived at our table piping hot from the deep fryer. They weren’t oily in the least, and they had a substantial, almost mashed-potato like filling accented by herbs and spice. They arrived with the same three sauces that flanked our dosa, so we were able to joyfully break apart and dip these things as well.
The Papadi Chat ($8) brought together a remarkably thick, tart yogurt, smashed up papadam (a cracker-like bread), bright kicky herbs, raw onions, and chutney into a package that was refreshing, complex, balanced, and joyful.
Last but certainly not least, the dal makhani ($13) looked a bit underwhelming on the menu as a Black Lentil and Beans Curry, but it caught Colin’s eye and he was right to pick it out. This stuff was heavily layered with complex, balanced, entertaining levels of spice, suggesting smoke, garlic, and ginger, with enough cream to be pleasing but not so much as to be oppressively rich. On rice, and with the top-grade garlic naan that we ordered ($4, chewy and charred and basically perfect), it was a huge hit with our whole crew. – James Norton
Dosa South Indian Grill | 8654 Lyndale Ave S, Bloomington | 952.884.1033
Editor’s Note, Dec. 14, 2022: This review was corrected to remove a reference to cheese in one of the sauces accompanying the mutton dosa.