CORK

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT -

Iyer’s Café

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.

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