Am I the last blogger to visit Dishoom? Probably, if this list is anything to go by! For the record, I’ve still not eaten at Bocca di Lupo, Bob Bob Ricard (but I went for tea one day), and Hawksmoor, though they’re all on my very long list of to-visit restaurants (somebody buy me a lottery ticket!). Anyway, Dishoom got ticked off the list a couple weekends ago when we found ourselves in the area, not feeling like heading into Chinatown for lunch. To quickly go over what you probably already know, Dishoom models itself after a traditional Bombay cafe, is open for all-day eating, and its name is the Bollywood equivalent of a “Pow” or “Boom” sound.
The restaurant itself was smaller than I expected but really showed its size when I headed downstairs to the bathroom later on – there was even more seating room there as well as a bar. Despite it being lunchtime on a Sunday, we got a table quite promptly and never saw a queue by the door; that said, the place was almost always full and buzzing. I really liked the space: the seats were comfortable and there was plenty of light coming in through the windows. And with lots of staff about, there was always someone about to whom you could get your drink orders in.
Their Nimbu Pani (lemon juice and sparkling water) (£2.90) was lemony but not very sparkly and was quite a small glass for the price. The House Punch (blend of fruit juices, coconut and a dash of Darjeeling tea) (£2.90) tasted mainly of passion fruit juice. Luckily, these were the only duds of the meal; I think I’ll stick to tap water next time.
Three chutneys were duly deposited on our table: a sweetish tamarind and date chutney, a herbilicious mint and coriander chutney and my favourite, a fresh chilli and tomato chutney.
Food-wise, we skipped the curries to try some of their one dish meals. Oh, and one of their snacks too. The Dishoom calamari (with zesty lime and chilli) (£4.50) looked like a small portion but the bowl held more than I originally expected. The calamari was coated in quite a unique crispy breadcrumbed coating (though I’m starting to wonder if it was something like cornmeal?) and was drizzled overtop with a sweet tasty sauce. Very nice.
As we were sitting right by the breads section, we could watch the roomali roti for our Paneer & Mushroom Roomali Roll (£6.20) being made. The portion of dough was rolled to almost paper thinness before being slapped onto a hot dome for only a few seconds per side. For our roll, plenty of grilled paneer and mushrooms and greens were rolled inside that wonderful thin bread. The filling could have been seasoned a bit more but it was nothing a little of the chutneys couldn’t sort it.
The Chicken Berry Biryani (their take on the classic Bombay café berry pulao) (£7.50) came in a stout pot with a lid sealed on with pastry – as biryanis should be. I really enjoyed this biryani with its dry, fluffy rice, tender spiced dark meat and sweet dried berries.
I was stuffed but Blai could still fit in a sweet and chose his favourite Indian dessert: Kulfi on a Stick (£2.50). It was lovely but I still have a soft spot for the kulfi on a stick you find on the street in Southall in the summer!
I know we’ve only just sampled a fraction of what the menu has to offer but what we had was all very promising; I’m sure we’ll be revisiting when we’re in the area again. Oh, if you go, check out the bathrooms; they have such a cute display of old Indian toiletries in the toilets!
12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9FB