I first saw Dishoom in the most unusual way, from zooming into a map of central London on my iPhone and seeing its name pop up. At first glance, I thought it said ‘Dishroom’ – as in a room full of dishes – and I thought it was going to be an English restaurant serving roast dinners, but it turned out to be completely the opposite!
My mum beat me to trying out the restaurant (is she trendier than me!?) and found out that it is actually a Bombay Café-styled restaurant.
It turns out that the word ‘Dishoom’ is onomatopoeia used as a sound effect in fight scenes, such as ‘pow’ or ‘bam’. I never would have worked that one out!
The menu is a mixture of small plates, grills, vegetables and curries, and we were advised that the best way to order is to choose a few things for the table and then try a bit of everything.
We went for the Lamb Samosas to start (delicious) which were specifically made with Gujarati filo pastry, not Punjabi shortcrust.
We had the Murgh Malai (chicken thigh meat steeped overnight in garlic, ginger, coriander stems, and cream). This was really tender and not too spicy, and was probably my favourite dish. It went well with the Dishoom Slaw, which was shredded cabbage, pomegranate seeds and mayo (but not as good as the one mum makes at home!). I hope you’re reading this mum!!!
We tried the House Black Daal, which is simmered for 24 hours for ‘extra harmony’ between the ingredients. It came in a bowl, and looked a bit like brown porridge! It was rich and flavoursome, and you really needed naan or rice to soak it up – very unlike any daal I’ve had before!
A paragraph at the top of the menu introduced the restaurant as a Bombay Café. To summarise: All the original Bombay Cafés in London have almost disappeared. They were opened by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran at the beginning of the last century, and their faded elegance made them popular with businessmen, families, couples and students alike.
The restaurant was a stark contrast to what a curry house usually looks like: with its white cloth table cloths and napkins, desert menu featuring ice cream in a Punky the penguin toy, and colourful dish of aniseed flavoured sweets at the end. (Or is that just curry houses in the Woking area!?)
The inside seemed to be based on an Indian train station. It had ‘faded elegance’ in a shabby chic sort of way, and was open plan, with high ceilings, and a large clock suspended above the bar. In the entrance there were oddly matched tables and chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in a waiting room, and people milling around, waiting for friends, and eating in the armchairs.
Downstairs, the bar was pretty cool. It seemed like a destination in its own right – like it would be acceptable to go there and stay for the evening and ignore the buzzing restaurant above it. It was dimly lit, and the cocktails were fancy.
The whole place was very busy considering it was a Tuesday evening, and there was a queue of people waiting for tables the whole time I was there. It’s always a good sign when a bar/restaurant is in demand!