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Monday, 16 January 2012
Dishoom is one of the many London restaurants I had intended to visit but for one reason or another never got round to until recently. Since returning home after a two-month stay in Japan I've had a craving for good curries, Indian food and spices, and so Dishoom beckoned.
Having read the mother of all reviews by my friend Kavey of Kavey Eats, I learnt a few interesting facts about Dishoom that are worth sharing. I always wondered what the word Dishoom actually meant - it is apparently the Indian word used in Bollywood films to represent the sound made when the hero's fist hits the flesh of an opponent, the equivalent in English being Kapow! I knew that Dishoom was modelled on Bombay cafes, but I also discovered that at the turn of the 20th century, Persian immigrants to Bombay (now Mumbai) started a trend for all-day cafés based on elegant European coffee houses. Some still thrive to this day in their original form and location and are the inspiration for this London eatery. For more of Kavey's detailed and very informative review click here.
Dishoom is a casual restaurant with elegant painted brickwork, old photographs on the walls, dark wood tables with white marble tops, tall dark shutters and trendy, discreet lighting. I enjoyed the vintage feel that this evokes. It was also nice to be able to see the cooks in the open-plan kitchen, the chefs baking rotis in the open oven, and chargrilling kebabs. On our visit, the place was heaving with a lively West End crowd.
The menu is reassuringly short, with sections for Indian breakfast items like Egg Naan Roll @ £3.50 and Bombay Omelette @ £5.90, as well as soups from £3.70, salads, small plates including Desi Fish Fingers @£4.20 and Bombay Sausages @ £4.20, grills, biryanis and breads for later in the day. For a PDF of the menu, click here.
On our visit, Dr G and I shared a couple of cocktails (they range from £5.50 to £6.90,which is excellent value for the West End). Our cocktails were a lovely Chilli Martini made from pomegranate, homemade chilli syrup and gin, and a Bombay Pimm's - Pimm's, saffron gin, pomegranate, ginger beer, mint and orange. Both were priced @ £6.50, and were very flavoursome and refreshing.
With the cocktails, we went for Dishoom Calamari with zesty lime and chilli @ £5.20 - these had some zingy flavours, but were a little over-greasy.
The other dishes we had included Grilled Masala Prawns @ £9.50, served with lime, tomatoes and coriander. The prawns were fresh, plump and well-seasoned, and were in my opinion the best main course of the evening.
Lamb Boti Kabab - chunks of lamb marinated in red chilli, garlic and ginger @ £7.90. This had a real kick from the spices, but the meat was unfortunately a little on the tough side.
Chicken Berry Biryani @ £7.90, inspired by the classic berry pulao from Britannia Cafe in Bombay was attractively presented in a small clay pot, the rice, meat and other ingredients sealed inside for cooking by a strip of pastry used to secure a water-tight lid on the pot. Opened at the table, the aromas released are delectable.
From the grill section of the menu, we ordered Portobello Mushrooms @ £6.70. These were large and meaty, served with sliced onions and a tangy dressing. Very delicious.
Chicken Tikka is a favourite, and Dishoom's @ £6.70 version didn't disappoint - plump pieces of grilled chicken with an invigorating mix of ginger, green and red chillies.
By this stage, we were rather full, and were pleased to have the option of a small, refreshing Pistachio Kulfi @ £2.70- nutty, creamy and delicious, it was the perfect dessert after all that had gone before. Kulfi's are also available in also mango and malai flavours.
There is a short list of beers and wines, but the selection is well thought out and priced. In all, there are five choices of white and red wines, with house wines @ £18.90. There are three beers, including Meantime Union at £3.90 - one of my favourites.
We enjoyed our experience at Dishoom, and were pleased to find an Indian restaurant that serves good quality food, which unlike many other Indian places of similar standard, is affordable to most.
Cost: £49 for two people, not including drinks. This is good value considering the quality of the food and the number of dishes we ordered.
Likes: Good quality, reasonably priced food, quirky decor, central location, friendly service, lively atmosphere, well-priced cocktails and wine list.
Dislikes: It can get a little raucous, and it would be good to have a few more wine options.
Verdict: Very good quality Indian food, with quirky and fun decor at reasonable prices. Centrally located, buzzing, and with a lively atmosphere. Highly recommended.