It’s a terrible name Dosa Park, with it’s Eastern bloc connotations, but as old Bill Shakespeare said himself: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Anyone who has eaten there, despite it’s rather ‘rustic’ decor and takeaway demeanour, will understand what he meant.

But first leave your preconceptions at the plate glass door leading in off the street from the stained pavement outside, situated as it is in the scruffy parade opposite Oxford train station.

As appearances suggest, it was a chicken joint. And when the current owners changed its cuisine from poultry to thalis, people kept wandering in looking for a bucket of wings, rather than a South Indian feast.

Dosa Park instead puts its considerable passion and attention to detail into the food they cook rather than the trappings in which you eat it, customers venturing to Oxford specifically to eat there, a good thali impossible to find it would seem, despite the many charlatans attempting to rip off the concept.

And once tasted, the spartan room, the cold breeze when the door opens and the self service food counter, all fade into insignificance, because nothing else matters.

A recent revamp has certainly cheered the place up a bit with nice lights and a few pictures on the wall. But some customers still don’t take their coats off

The menu has also been given a revamp, with much more to offer, the thalis being extended to include even more dishes.

But nothing can deter me from the classics, many of which you just can’t find anywhere else. The dosas for example are long thin pancakes made from rice batter and black lentils and served with two chutneys and a sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew made with tamarind). Served on a long thin metal tray it arrives spilling over the ends, piping hot and crispy.

My personal favourite is the Masala Dosa (£6.99) which comes stuffed with mashed potato which might sounds strange, but the tatty is spiced and flavoured, the perfect filling for a food that you rip up and dunk in the sauce.

Vadas on the other hand are savoury doughnuts made with lentil, onion, chilli, curry leaves and herbs, and served with more sambar (£4.95), which I always order, the sambar juices soaking in, leaving a satisfying heat hit after each bite.

The pancake idlys are another big draw, as are the onion bhajis, which are a sight to behold, shaming every other incarnation, twisted, piping hot swirls of spiced and battered onion strands appearing, piled high on the plate. (£4.75)

In fact, food envy is so prevalent at Dosa Park that the waitress behind the counter calmly shouts through to the back for another portion of anything you need to add to your already burgeoning table.

All of which is deferring from the main event - the thali (which comes as chicken, lamb or veggie), so called because of the silver dish in which the rice takes centre stage.

Around it are arranged a mixture of sambar, dhal curry, veg curry, channa masala, rasam, yoghurt and a subtle but sweet creamed rice with cardamom and cinnamon flavours, all placed in the circular compartments around it. The rice is then topped with poppadoms and small circular pancakes.

The range changes on a daily basis so you are never quite sure what you are going to be presented with, but it’s always good

From the thin rasam to the thick dahl, the soft bite of the chickpea channa masala and the spice of the veg curry, every element is homemade and individually flavoured enough to stand out on their own, but work beautifully together, and all for the princely sum of £8.99, all washed down with cup after cup of sweet, spiced milky masala tea.

If you order the meat version, the chunks of lamb or chicken are soft, succulent and generous; slow cooked to perfection, and served in a separate dish

The bill is equally as delightful, £25 easily covering both of you.

Those more in touch with their creature comforts than their taste buds will hate the Dosa Park experience. But once discovered, it’s never forgotten.

Dosa Park

25 Park End Street


01865 791197

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday

11am to 11pm

Sunday: Noon to 10pm