There can be few more satisfying things than clocking off from work early on a Friday and heralding the start of a long weekend with copious amounts of curry and lager. This weekend was no different; while we may have exchanged our local Chiltern-based Kashmiri eatery for the exotic South Indian delights of Bournemouth's Dosa World, save from a little tail back on the M4 and a few quibbles on the journey down, we were just as excited about getting a bit of spice in our lives.
This must surely rate as one of the least auspicious entries (certainly outside London) in the Good Food Guide. While the rest of the Dorset chapter seems to feature fancy hotel restaurants, gastropubs and posh beach-based eateries, Dosa World is a no frills strip lit cafe on a rather unlovable stretch of the Christchurch Road.
Luckily we hadn't been put off by the unforgiving neon glare, sparse interior or reports of maddeningly slow service (which proved to be mostly true, but was made up for with warmth and charm) and were soon nursing large bottles of very cheap and very cold Kingfisher (the Sri Lankan, Lion Lager was sadly out of stock).
From the huge, and slightly bewildering, menu, we decided to start with the Gobi 65; a veggie version of the famous Sri Lankan Chicken dish, featuring small florets of cauliflower fried in an alarmingly bright, but rather moreish batter, and sprinkled with spices, raw onion and fresh lemon. This was quickly followed by the Nethili Fish Fry, delicious little bone-in anchovies strewn with sweet cooked onions. Piping hot, fresh and zingy, both dishes made the the perfect beer snack to whet our appetites.
For mains the Ewing chose the innocuous sounding Kerala Fish Curry while I chose the Chettinadu Mutton. I love mutton and this didn't let me down; rich chunks of meat on the bone in a glorious tomato and onion spiked gravy, with just the right smack of chilli heat. Pieces of buttery light Veechu Parota , a traditional Sri Lankan bread, made the perfect vehicle to greedily transport the remaining sauce to my mouth.
It was only as I paused for breath after the final mouthful of meat that I realised the Ewing had gone rather quiet, save for the odd spluttering sound. Now, I'm used to her regularly proclaiming, 'it's burny on my tongue' (a deliberate misquote of the great Ralph Wiggum) when there's the merest hint of capsaicin in her dinner, but, having tried some for myself, I can confirm it was hotter than the concentric circles of hell itself.
So hot in fact that after, foolishly, going back for a second helping it rendered me temporarily deaf in one ear. Not brilliant when you only have one half of a pair functioning in the first place. Much sweating, eye watering and spluttering later, I can confirm the plentiful pieces of meaty king fish steak in the full flavoured, thin coconut-y gravy were worth the searing pain and momentary loss of senses. While suffering over your dinner isn't everyone's idea of fun, this food wasn't just all mouth and no trousers; there was real flavour and flair amongst all the searing heat, too.
Luckily the Chicken masala dosa was a little more mild mannered. A delicate and crisp Indian style crepe that proved a welcome respite from the searing heat, especially when combined with the cooling, fresh coconut chutney. Peeking inside revealed a generous amount of delicately spiced potato and meat filling, and it was also served with a strange, sweet orange relish, which tasted more like a microwave tikka sauce, and some, rather nicer, daal and mixed vegetables.
The Ewing rounded the evening off with a, much needed, cooling mango milkshake. Sweet and soporific, it was a little too sickly for me, but it successfully soothed one burnt tongue.
Dosa World is a little gem in a sea of chain pubs and chicken shops. While it may not be fast and it may not be flashy, it is authentic, tasty food that's all freshly cooked to order. With a table overladen with food and a couple of beers each, we still struggled to spend twenty quid a head; top value, and it would be even cheaper if you visit for one of their bargain lunchtime specials.
So lucky Dorset dwellers, forget your bargain bucket and get down here for a real meal deal.