[quote]A Bombay café in London? Well that’s enough to grab one’s attention! So my significant other dragged me there the other day to check out the Eid menu Dishoom had created. [/quote]
The place (Shoreditch) was heaving when we arrived, and this was just from the outside. Man this place was hustling and bustling! We were welcomed and received very warmly by the reception staff, and even by a customer with a bike who held the door open for us as we entered. As we hadn’t made a reservation we were told there would be about a 30 minute wait for a table. We were directed to the Permit Room (bar) where we took up a seat. This was the moment where I soaked in the entire scene. Not having been to a Bombay café before, I didn’t know what to expect, but from watching Rick Stein’s India and reading about Leopold’s Café in Gregory Roberts Shantaram (you have to read this book!) I had a certain picture in my head. This place screamed more Shoreditch than Bombay! But when you gave the place a chance, scattered around were fragments that could represent a colonial India. From vintage styled lamps of all sorts, old black and white photos of people of Indian heritage, coat stands and dark oak decor everywhere. And if that didn’t conjure up anything Indian then maybe the music in the background will. Tracks from 60’s and 70’s Bollywood blared out amongst the jazz of Chicago.
When our table was available and we headed to it, it felt more like a café with its chequered tables, simple chairs, and diner type booths. Our waiter Raju took our Eid menu order. The starters arrived first, the pau bhaji and bhel puri presented with three dips and a plate of fried onions, green chillies, ginger, mint, coriander and lime. The bhel was very pleasant, savoury until the sweet explosion of pomegranate splashed on your tongue. The rose and cardamom lassi is worth mentioning here, as it was a refreshing change from the mango lassi everyone is used to. Sweet and subtle as the menu says! Next up the mains came in, my favourite being the okra fries lightly coated with a mix of spices. The chicken in the biryani was very soft and tender. Either my wife got to the cranberries first or they were in short supply as I failed to experience them. The daal wasn’t anything spectacular nor the raita. The haleem was questionable though. At first it looked like a tuna and mayo mixture, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a korma too. I’ve not had a commercial haleem before, but homemade ones yes. This one seemed to lack the spice and flavours of the haleems I’ve tried. It might appeal to other palates but I wasn’t impressed. To finish off we chose the kala khatta which was a slush with kokum syrup and blueberries. It was adequate, nothing to write home about.
Overall Dishoom was a very pleasant experience. It’s worth a visit at some point. The atmosphere was excellent, friendly vibes from everyone, staff and clientele. The service was good and efficient, smiles from all that served us. I’d strongly recommend a reservation before you visit though; waiting times are longer towards the end of the week. The food (we had) was nothing amazing but still enjoyable. The lamb raan and other grilled items on the main menu look tempting so I may pop in again.
So go check this place out at least once, the name’s Dishoom but doesn’t quite pack the same punch!
7 BOUNDARY STREET, LONDON E2 7JE