Dishoom is almost hidden amidst the chaos and sea of people, between the popular tourist spots of Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Situated on Upper Street St. Martin’s Lane, Dishoom is modelled on Bombay Cafés (also known as Irani Cafés) that flourished in what was then British India. For that reason it takes a refreshingly different perspective from your usual Indian, and fuses a rich café culture with a modern cosmopolitan feel you would expect in London. The decor really does take you back in time, and if you are a history lover like me, you can entertain yourself by looking at the various portraits around the restaurant; all of which echo the romance of a time almost forgotten.
I loved the short description on the menu, which reflected the vibrancy of the stories Dishoom was trying to recreate:
THE ORIGINAL BOMBAY CAFÉS HAVE ALMOST DISAPPEARED.
Opened early last century by Persian immigrants, their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallahs and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.
Mango & Fennel Lassi and Virgin Bombay Colada
Prawn and Pomelo Salad
Dishoom Chicken Tikka Roll
Garlic Naan and the Black House Daal
The view from above
Spicy Lamb Chops
The view from our table
Pot of Mint Tea and a glass of House Chai
Guji Chocolate Mousse and Memsahib’s Mess
Yes. All chicken and lamb come from Halal certified suppliers (if you require more detailed information contact Dishoom).
The menu looked very good, so it was quite hard to whittle down our choices. For drinks we chose the Mango Lassi and Virgin Bombay Colada. Some may find lassi quite heavy with the food, in which case the virgin colada is another delicious and refreshing choice.
For starters the Prawn and Pomelo salad is great if you are looking for a lighter option, although you need to be comfortable with the sour of the pomelo, which tastes like grapefruit. I wasn’t quite prepared for it, but the flavour worked well with the prawns. The Dishoom Calamari also stood out, and was delicious as the texture was just right, and not too rubbery.
For mains, one of the staff recommended the Black House Dhaal and at first I wasn’t so sure, as I tend not to get lentils when eating out at Indian restaurants. However I am glad the waitress was so persuasive, because it was by far the best dish of the evening, and probably the best daal I have ever tasted (sorry mum!). It had a very creamy texture, and combined with rice or naan bread, is a warming dish that you won’t regret getting. For all the meat eaters out there, the Spicy Lamb Chops were also very good. However as we ordered quite a lot of food, we left that till a little later and it started to get a bit tough, so I would recommend eating it just as it comes off the heat. The overall presentation of the lamb was lovely too. In addition to the daal, there were quite a few vegetarian options for those who do not eat meat. We got the Gunpowder Potatoes thinking it would be like a side, but it actually came as quite a big portion size, and so is a good one to get if you are in a group and sharing.
After the main course, we were absolutely full to the brim but couldn’t resist tea and dessert. We ordered one mint tea (which came in a cute teapot), and a glass of traditional Chai-because you can’t go to a Bombay Café and not get the Chai! The desserts we got were both delicious, however I think one between two would have been more than enough. If I had to choose between the two, the Memsahib’s Mess would definitely win, as the sweetness of the crushed meringue with strawberries really gave the sugar fix that we needed. The Guju Choclate Mouse was good too, but a little heavier I felt.
The inside is chatty and busy, and has an overall great atmosphere, with diners including couples, work colleagues and tourists. It seemed like a popular spot, and towards the evening began to get quite busy -with a queue forming at the door. Staff handed out hot mint tea to those that braved the chilly weather to wait for a table (you can only book in advance for a group of 6 or more), which I felt was nice touch, and said a lot about the customer care. All the staff that served us were friendly and attentive, taking time to explain the intricacies of each dish, and possessed good knowledge of the food. The manager even came over to us to speak about the restaurant, its history and the food, which was very nice, and really helped us get a feel of what the story of Dishoom was all about.
Most certainly. But this time we would order less, and enjoy each dish in its entirety (especially the Daal!). They also serve a Bombay breakfast, which is served until 11am, and is definitely on my list to try.
Around £60-70 for two.
http://www.dishoom.com/ for a full list of locations and menu details. There will also be a family day at Dishoom during Ramadan 2014 to celebrate Eid-so keep an eye out for more details on their website.
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