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Andhra Bhavan

Take a deep dive into Southern Indian cooking without leaving Dublin


7 Feb 2024


North City Centre


Andhra Bhavan, Marlborough Place, North City, Dublin 1, Ireland


Restaurant Info

Written by:

Lisa Cope & Ronan Doyle

What's the story with Andhra Bhavan?

Andhra Bhavan opened on Marlborough Place (just off Talbot Street) last November, with the bold claim that they were "Ireland's 1st Authentic South Indian Restaurant". This is not exactly true - both 3 Leaves in Blackrock and Indian Tiffins on Parnell Street serve Southern Indian food, and food truck Dosa Dosa has given dosa their moment in the spotlight, but Andhra Bhavan has certainly brought the most extensive menu yet.

The guys behind it are two friends, originally from Southern India, who've been working in Dublin for over 15 years. Praveen Madire is an entrepreneur and CEO of two tech companies, while Sainath Reddy was a brand manager for a pharma company. They say they missed the dining experience of home, and wanted to bring the food, ingredients, decor, hand-drawn paintings and the right chefs to Dublin, so that people living here could taste real Indian cuisine from the five states of the South, like Dosas, Idlis, Vadas, Uttapams and Pani-Puri (there's a counter where they make it fresh but it wasn't operating on either of our visits.).

Andhra Bhavan is named after the famous government-run canteen in Delhi where food is highly subsidised, ensuring every resident can eat very well. The owners say they interviewed hundreds of chefs in India before hiring their kitchen team, led by head chef Venkata Ramana Manthri, and moving them to Ireland to get started on the menu.

We were already struck by how overwhelmingly positive their online reviews were, with mostly Indian-expat customers declaring it the taste from home that's been missing in their lives, but when Indian born, Dublin-residing food writer Vritti Bansal declared various elements "fearless" and "worthy of applause", we found our fingers promptly making a booking.

Where should we sit?

They've packed the tables in so it isn't exactly roomy, but it fits with the canteen vibe of feeding as many people as possible. The room at the front has banquettes, whereas the one at the back has standard tables and chairs, and there's a lovely high table with a tree in the centre of it that's perfect for solo diners who don't want to take up a table.

What's on the menu?

The menu is huge - a novella to Southern Indian cuisine - and while we tried to get through as much of it as possible over two visits, it would take 20 to do it justice. There are 11 sections, including an all day breakfast menu, and here's what we loved, liked, and have already forgotten from what we tried...

First the loves. Don't leave without doing a dosa. That is a direct order. Vritti recommended the onion rava, which is served everywhere in India but hasn't appeared here before now. It's the size of a full length adult arm, with frilly, crispy edges, and just cooked onion inside. Tearing it apart piece by piece and scooping up the brilliant peanut, coconut and ginger chutneys is some of the most fun you can have in Dublin for €11.99. There's also sambar, a watery lentil stew, that you'll probably (happily) eat most of with a spoon.

Also on the breakfast menu are Medu Vada, which are no exaggeration, a revelation. You’ll find these savoury deep-fried lentil flour doughnuts in other places around town, but none come close to these, with their crispy-soft contrast of crust and filling. The three pieces again come with a generous pot of sambar and the three chutneys, and the mix-and-match flavour possibilities would bring us back here again and again.

The other dish there was almost a fight for (also from the breakfast menu, guess we really love Indian breakfasts) was the Chole Bhatura. The chole is the spiced, tangy chickpea curry. The bhatura is the soft, fluffy, deep-fried bread. Once again hands are needed here to tear and dip and scoop, and expect to fight off other hands in the process.

Veg manchurian is an Indo-Chinese dish of fried vegetable balls in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce, and having never seen them here before we had to add them to our order. Beautiful textures range from soft batter to crispy veg, and the sauce is just spicy enough to have you come back for another, and another.

Onto the likes. Like the American pancake counterpart to the dosa’s crepe-like thinness, Uttapam is another Southern Indian staple with seven options on offer here including plain, tomato and cheese. We went with onion, and unlike the dosa approach of filling and wrapping, toppings are baked directly into the dough pizza-style, for a loaded tear-and-share that works well with a crowd. We’re more partial to the satisfying crisp of a dosa, but this is the way to go if you like something a bit thicker.

If you want to know where everyone's favourite celebrity restaurant got its name, it's from the spicy soup-like dish with a base of tamarind, herbs, spices, lentils and vegetables, served here with idlis - little fluffy pancakes made from fermented rice and lentil batter. It's full of flavour, and full of spice, with the idil crumbling in your mouth and the rasam keeping your palate wide awake.

We were disappointed that they didn’t have saag paneer on (despite what many Indian restaurants in Ireland advertise, saag is made with mustard greens rather than spinach), but as consolations go the all-spinach palak paneer did nicely. The lightly-spiced sauce has a flavour as intense as its bright-green colour, and the mildly-melted curds of what tasted like homemade paneer are a tangy treat to dig for. You’re offered plain rice or paratha on the side, but scooping greedy pools with the flaky dough will win out for us every time.


Our server recommended we tried the Mutton Chettinadu, prefacing it with the question - "do you like spice?" We do, so we did, but buyer beware - there's Irish spice, and Indian spice. We downed at least three 1.5 litre jugs of water while eating just a few spoons of this, and if there was a fire extinguisher close by someone would have probably undid the safety and let it rip. You'll need a lassi for your digestive system, and a napkin for the sweat. The meat is also on the bone, so look out for small shards in the sauce.

Mains come with a choice of steamed rice or paratha, and you'll probably end up with both if you have a few dishes. We also dried the roti and found it surprisingly dry and lacking in flavour. The paratha is the superior bread, but if you're counting calories...

Beside a lot of what we tried, the Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani stood out less. The fragrant steamed rice packs plenty of flavour to accompany the tender, rendered fat of buried drumsticks, but this is more standard staple than standout special – you can safely skip this section of the menu and save room for the bigger highlights.

There are a few traditional desserts, like gulab jamun, and jilebi (a pretzel-like dessert soaked in sugar syrup), but seen as it was a wintry Dublin day we tried the Semiya Payasam, a soup-like pudding with cardamom-infused milk, vermicelli, sugar, nuts and raisins. It's warm and soothing, and while it might jar to be eating what we're more used to as noodles/pasta for dessert, the perfumed, sweet, fruit and nut-filled mouthfuls are very satisfying. A whole bowl is a lot however so sharing is the way to do it.

What about drinks?

Drinks are standard softs, beer and house wine, but the lassis are what you want to be drinking. We tried both mango and rose and both were cooling, fresh and sweet - but not too sweet. They were gone before the food arrived.

How was the service?

Very slow. This was the main downside of eating here. We had to wave servers down for menus, water, napkins, we had to order drinks twice because they didn't arrive the first time, and it was a struggle to get anyone's attention. When we did staff were lovely and very helpful, but maybe there needs to be more of them.

What was the damage?

Everything we ate was over two visits, but you could eat very well in here, with leftovers to take home, for €35-40 a head, including a lassi. Head in for breakfast and dishes are on average €10-€12.

And the verdict?

Andhra Bhavan aren't the first ones to cook authentic Southern Indian food in Dublin, but they are the first to bring a menu this extensive. A visit here is as close as you're going to get to the government-run Delhi canteen without having to leave the capital, and having our own Southern Indian enclave in which to take a deep dive through dosas, uttapams and vadas have made Dublin's food scene sizeably richer.

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