Dorothy’s vs. Tony’s: We tried the specialty dish from two Chippy Alley establishments to see which one is better – Ed Gilbert
Cardiff City v Swansea City, Ospreys v Scarlets, Wales v England.
Of course, these Welsh rivalries are big, but none are on the same scale as Dorothy’s versus Tony.
When it comes to late night takeaways from downtown Cardiff, people’s loyalty tends to fall between the two most iconic destinations on Caroline Street.
Read more: Restaurants in Cardiff where you can bring your own alcohol
Surprisingly, these two places were established in 1953, so they’ve been serving fries and gravy, rissoles, sausage and batter to drunken partygoers for almost 70 years.
With such a fierce rivalry, we decided to pit them head to head. And what better way to choose the champion than by ordering their signature dish – boneless chicken curry and fries?
A little lacking in authenticity, I visited both places on a Friday lunchtime and was quite sober.
However, here are my thoughts on both.
that of Dorothée
The place – With its woodwork, metal counter and brown and yellow colors, Dorothy’s has a heritage look. It’s the kind of place that seems to have served fried food for over 70 years.
I also love that they celebrate their house specialty on the window with stickers. Dorothy’s proudly proclaims that they were the first business in Cardiff city center to start selling Chicken Curry over 40 years ago and their recipe remains unchanged. It certainly reassures you that they know what they are doing.
The price – £ 6
Waiting – Although there was someone in front of me in the queue when I walked in, I was served almost immediately and my lunch was ready within minutes. A few people were also sitting enjoying their own portions of boneless chicken curry and fries which was nice to see.
The chicken – A plentiful tender chicken was served boneless as described. I haven’t come across a single piece of cartilage or bone.
Curry sauce – I can see how the recipe for this curry sauce dates back over 40 years but I say it in a positive way. It was almost like a hybrid of curry sauce and curry sauce with good meat and a delicate warming spice. It was also an ideal thickness, so it flowed through the meat and coated all the fries well.
Fleas – A very good quantity of chips of the chip shop type. They were all a nice shade of brown and weren’t soggy. They weren’t crispy either, but that’s not the sort of thing I expect from a chip shop.
Tony’s fish bar
The place – Unlike Dorothy’s traditional appearance, Tony’s has turned its back on its traditional white and red painted sign in favor of a sleek new electric logo. It gives the impression that this is a place serving 21st century bone-less chicken curry and fries.
Their interiors are also much more lively and colorful than Dorothy’s, with visual menus promoting the range of fish and chips and kebabs they offer.
The price – £ 5.40 so it’s a bit cheaper than Dorothy’s but 60p is not a deal breaker for me.
Waiting – When I got to Tony’s, I was the only one but someone arrived shortly after. My order was prepared on the spot and I was out of the door within minutes.
The chicken – Again, it was a generous amount of boneless meat and it was pleasantly tender.
Curry sauce – It was much more of a house-style curry sauce with a more assertive and slightly harder spiciness and a little more fruit. It was also much thicker, so it rested on the meat and chips rather than covering everything.
Fleas – Tony’s portion was also plentiful and hit the mark for a chip shop style fry. There was also a bit of the occasional crunchy bonus.
The final verdict
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the two servings of boneless chicken curry and fries from Dorothy’s and Tony’s. The fries and the chicken were both very good from both places.
But, Dorothy’s was clearly the winner for me and it was purely because of the curry sauce. I really enjoyed its sweet and meaty spices and it is clearly a recipe that has been well refined over the decades.
So, this is Wales’ biggest rivalry settled once and for all, or is it?
Please let me know your favorite take out on Caroline Street – is it Dorothy’s or Tony’s? Or is it completely elsewhere?
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