38 Pope’s Quay, Cork facebook.com/iyerscafe I’m supping on a Mango Misty (¤3), a vegan version of the more common milky lassi, made with coconut milk. It’s just as deliciously thick and cooling as the regular Mango Lassi (¤2). On the stereo is Indian folk set to a beat, and bunches of dried chillis hang on the walls. I’m in Cork city, in Iyer’s Café.
Chef Gautham Iyer opened Iyer’s Café three years ago. His food, cooked with Ayurvedic principles in mind, is an understated celebration of the food from Iyer’s homeland of Tamil Nadu, the south-eastern state of India.
This lovely cooking is housed in a small space on The River Lee, with about 12 seats. Everything is made in-house, and it’s all available for take-out, apart from the dosa. I can see how the dosa might not survive a journey to a final destination. These are large, delicate crepes made from ground lentils, folded over to encase a variety of fillings. My onion dosa (¤6.95) comes with tiny pieces of diced red onion, accompanied by a thin sambar lentil curry, a yogurt sauce and a sweet, mango chutney.
The aaloo tikki (€5) is a wonder of fried cauliflower, coated in a light batter that takes on a mouth-watering crunch once fried dark brown. These little fritters are accompanied by an avocado chutney, a creamy antidote to the delicate spice of the batter. My only problem with the side salad of candied fennel seeds, wild rocket and sprouted mung beans is that it’s so gorgeous that I am left wanting more. But I’m just being greedy; I have plenty on my table to get through.
The samosa chaat (€6.50) is a bowl of two gloriously pudgy samosas that boast thick, heavenly pastry. They’re covered in a salad of puffed rice and chickpea curry. The Madras Thali (€12.50), one of two larger dishes on the menu, arrives on a silver tray built to carry a tasting plate of south-eastern flavours. Basmati rice is paired with tasty little plates of curries including a sambar, chickpea rasam and a vegetable salna, with a poppodams for good measure.
A vegan pomegranate cake (€3.50) is soaked in a sweet pomegranate molasses. It’s astonishingly moist. Instead of coffee, a sweetlyspiced chai tea (€2) seems a more appropriate way to finish this meal. I’m about to leave when I notice the vegan dry fruit and nut laddoo (€2), delightful balls of compacted fruit and nuts coated in coconut or hemp seed, and grab two of them for the road.
Because we ordered pretty much everything on the menu, our bill came to €47.45. You could easily come away from Iyer’s full and sated for under €10. It’s a gem, for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.