Posted by: nekojita | December 21, 2007

Dosa Corner and La Casita

In preparation for my impending departure for the Bay Area, we’ve been racing around to try the restaurants that we’ve always meant to try but never quite made it to. Two of these are Dosa Corner and La Casita–i. e. South Indian food and Mexican food, respectively. It’s funny. I associate both of these cuisines with California (along with Cantonese, they make up the dominant trinity of ethnic foods of the Bay Area). So it may seem strange that we are seeking out these foods here in Columbus, especially so close to returning to the West. *But* we heard they were good. *And* we’ll be eating family food for the holidays, which means only limited time to eat out in any case.

So on we went, with our friend K as a willing accomplice. She lives up in North Columbus, where the ethnic food scene in Columbus seems to be centered.

I wish I could remember who it was that recommended Dosa Corner to us, so I could give him/her a big hug and a hearty thanks. It’s driving me mad–I had thought it was K, but she confessed to never having tried it when I suggested it as a dinner option. In any case, I can’t recommend it enough. Dosa Corner focuses on South Indian cuisine: wada, idli, uthappam, and of course, dosa. As a result, the bulk of the menu would seem unfamiliar to even more experienced partakers of Indian cuisine in America, since most Indian restaurants here specialize in northern Indian cuisine and the food of the British Raj. In fact, Dosa Corner did offer a few familiar names: Saag Paneer, Mattar Paneer and Samosa. We didn’t order them this time, although we might on a return visit. The samosa were particularly popular at other tables.

What we did order was this: masala wada, Mirqii bajji, spicy spinach dosa, bisibelabath and eggplant curry. Translated: spicy deep-fried lentil patties, battered fried peppers stuffed with the masala wada mixture, a large lentil flour crepe stuffed with lightly seasoned potatoes, spinach and sliced chilis, a rice and lentil flour porridge with ghee, spices and vegetables, and eggplant curry (sorry, there is no better explanation for this dish!). Oh, and pooris, which are sort of like fried puffy flour tortillas. We loved everything. Well, except for the pooris, which came at the end of the meal and were rather too much for us. My favorites were the spicy spinach dosa and the stuffed fried peppers. The dosa crepe was crisp and lacy and the filling was perfectly spiced, with the blander potatoes playing off the green freshness of the spinach and the heat of the chilis. The peppers were coated in a crunchy-but-not-exploding-into-a million-shards-at-the-first-bite batter and I think that the masala wada tasted even better protected by the sweet layer of pepper encasing it than it did fried on its own. Mmm… I’m salivating just thinking about it and it’s only 7:30 in the morning.

We went to La Casita the next night, since K thought that it was only fair that we go to one of the good restaurants near her house that she had actually tried. We met up with K and her friend, A, at the restaurant, which meant that there were four of us and that was a good number for a pitcher of margaritas. I highly recommend the “original” margarita, made with a nice balance of tequila, cointreau (much preferable to triple sec) and fresh lime juice. Now that’s a real margarita. I dislike Rose’s lime juice in a bottle, although it will do in a pinch, and margarita mixes are right out! So, the fresh lime juice was much appreciated. We also consumed three baskets of their chips (passable) and salsa (very good, especially considering the time of year).

Just so that you know that were were not completely disreputable, we did get entrees as well. B got the whole fried tilapia, which has been known to cause some distress among our other friends, but luckily not A and K. He proclaimed it good, but was most taken, I think, with the refried beans and nopales. I got the romantically-named “Las Yolandas,” which were cheese enchiladas with shrimp on top (an uncharacteristically tame choice for me). The enchiladas were filled with flavorful and ooey-gooey cheese, but unfortunately, the shrimp were dry and pretty much flavorless. For some mysterious reason, they had been cut in half length wise (to give the appearance of more shrimp?), which I suspect contributed greatly to their overcooking. I think that the enchiladas sans shrimp might have been a better choice, especially since Las Yolandas were accompanied by black beans instead of refried beans. Sad.

K got the La Casita equivalent of a mixed grill (all meats! all the time!), while A got a taco salad, which arrived with amusingly pointy “teeth” cut into the tortilla shell. I think that it was meant to add a decorative touch to the dish, but ended up making it look, in A’s words, “like a beartrap salad.” It tasted good, though, and that’s what counts the most. A consumed his meal without perceptible injury.
*A warning: the combinations come with flour tortillas standard. You have to ask the waiter specifically if you want to get corn ones instead.

Over all, both places gave us nicely multicultural and surprisingly homey experiences (you could exchange the adverbs and adjectives here to get my feeling about Columbus: nicely homey and surprisingly multicultural). In some ways, I like Dosa Corner better than the famous Vik’s of Berkeley, since you don’t have to eat standing up in a sparsely furnished warehouse full of human vultures waiting for your bar space (although the menu at Vik’s is much more extensive). La Casita was just a comfy place to hang out with friends for dinner, although it leans more towards Tex-Mex than towards the Cali-Mex that we are used to.

I’m glad that I got this last chance (for a few months) to foray into the unexplored territory of the Columbus restaurant scene.  Check it out yourself, if you are in the area!

(I will actually list the addresses this time)

Dosa Corner                                                 La Casita

1077 Old Henderson Road                         1355 Bethel Road

Columbus, OH 43220                                 Columbus, OH 43220

( 614)459-5515                                              (614) 457-0823

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