Dosa Fillmore – Opening Night

One of the things I love about living in the Fillmore Jazz District of San Francisco is the bounty of really fabulous restaurants within walking distance. I have often lamented the lack of a really good Indian restaurants (as well as the lack of a good Middle Eastern restaurant, so if anyone is listening…)  Several months ago, the well-known Mission-based Dosa restaurant took over the vacated Goodwill store on Fillmore and Post and having walked past it on an almost daily basis, like many locals, we have had the great anticipation of the transformation of that elegant, old building.  So it was with anxious anticipation that I was one of the first standing out front, waiting to get in on opening night. (Okay, I confess; I *was* the first customer and will gloat about that for a short while).

Dining solo, I headed straight to the bar. Putting myself in the capable hands of a bartender named Kevin, I asked for his favorite Gin drink and a tasting menu comprised of his favorite dishes. My first cocktail was called the Bengal Gimlet, with Tanqueray Rangpur, Kaffir lime juice, and I believe, some muddled curried-scented fruit. It was fabulous and while waiting, I was incredibly impressed to count 26 varieties of Gin. I will definitely be back on that regard…

The first course to come out was a salad of mung sprouts with chopped tomatoes, ginger, coconut, a bit of chili and a very light dressing of mustard seeds and cumin. I was slightly foolish in cleaning my plate as I didn’t realize how much more food was coming, but the salad was so bright and refreshing with an enticing, spicy bite.

The second course was a serving of two Samosas; one from the North and one from the South; the Southern version was filled with an enticing compote of caramelized onions and vegetables while the Northern Samosas was the one I am more familiar with, stuffed with spiced potatoes. Both were perfectly fried and two sauces were offered; my favored tamarind and a green, cilantro-based that I’ve never cared for (not being a cilantro lover).

Finishing up my first cocktail, I asked for a different Gin-based drink and again, the server offered up a lighter, more refreshing offering of gin. I’m sorry I don’t remember the exact ingredients, but it was served in tall glass with a bit of spritzer, ginger beer, and tea. This is a drink I could see consuming a lot of on a hot, summer afternoon.

The third course was a giant Masala Uttapam, the thicker, pancake-like dosa stuffed with spinach, potatoes, and fresh herbs. This was served with two chutneys, tomato and coconut. There was also a side bowl of sambar, a spicy vegetable stew. I loved the richness of the Uttapam and being a bit of an admitted spice wimp, preferred the cooler coconut chutney to either the tomato or sambar.

I asked my server if I had any more savory courses coming as I wanted to make sure that in spite of his dinner suggestions, that I wanted to specify my dessert choice. However, either through a mix-up or mis-order, an additional course arrived consisting of vegetable curry. Tender potatoes, cauliflower, and fresh tomatoes were served in a creamy — almost hedonistic — sauce alongside aromatic jasmine rice and a small bowl of raita. Being quite done in, I only had a single bite, knowing it would make a great lunch tomorrow.

The dessert of choice for me is Gulab Jamin. I love a good Gulab Jamin and these did not disappoint. More dense than some I’ve had in the past, they were obviously fresh and perfectly warm.

For a first night, the staff was a bit shaky in the first half hour but it quickly dissipated as the restaurant filled up quickly. The décor is inviting and elegantly edgy with Chihuly-like chandeliers in the windows, a giant multi-armed golden Buddha seemingly holding up the back wall, and dark wood juxtaposed against the rich, rust-colored walls. My biggest problem with the new Dosa? The fact that I don’t make enough money to eat there every day. My tasting menu with two cocktails and tip (for one!) ran $80.00. But I hope to treat myself frequently on a single cocktail and single course now and then — or at least until I have had the opportunity to eat through the entire menu…

I have since returned to the restaurant several times and while the food is quite decent, it is horrifically over-priced for what is offered and served. I can appreciate good Indian food, but not at $50+ per person.

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