ACHICA has been about town this week checking out Dishoom – London’s first Bombay cafe. The inspiration for this bustling new venue comes from the traditional Irani cafés of Bombay, which could be found all over the city in the 1960s, tempting customers in with their mouth-watering dishes. At its location on Upper St Martin’s Lane, Dishoom serves up very affordable and rather delicious dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner – you can stop by for a cup of chai, cocktail, or a meal and the full works.
Designer Afroditi Krassa’s created the restaurant’s vibrant interior. From mismatched chairs at your white Carrara marble-topped tables you can spend a good part of your meal enjoying the sepia portraits and classic 1930s Bollywood posters that cover the walls, sourced by the owner from repeated trips to Bombay. These hang between antique mirrors and Indian blackboard rules advising ‘no gambling, no combing hair’ (we wouldn’t want any of that now while we dine, would we!) under slow-turning fans that serve as a reminder of the dense Bombay heat they used to disperse. The attention to detail is what really makes this interior work so well, with elegant touches like the beautiful glass orbs, designed by Rothchild & Bickers, that hang above each table, creating soft, ambient lighting as night falls.
Art-Deco checkerboard tiles set in dark, oak panelling line the front of the open-plan kitchen, where chefs toss dough over hot cooking domes for your roomali rotis and send out tantalising scents. Make sure you venture downstairs to check out the intimate alcove tables and note the bathrooms, which are decorated with classic posters and old medicine cabinets full of brightly coloured balms and tonics.
It took us so long to absorb all these details that we repeatedly had to ask our attentive waitress to come back to us, but when we finally turned our attention to the food, the real Dishoom experience began. Dishoom aims to awaken Londoners to a new way of thinking about Indian food, which moves away from traditional curry-house dishes into more sophisticated plates, while maintaining the influence of the Bombay street grills and food stalls.
Priced very reasonably from £3 – £5 for smaller dishes and desserts and £6-£9 for grills and larger dishes, it’s easy to try a selection of the huge and universally tempting menu.
We ate chilli cheese toast and roomali roti – delicious snacks that could be rustled up on any Bombay street corner.
Every dish is made to share. We tried the recommended spicy lamb chops, served with delicate pomegranate seeds, and the chicken berry biryani; both full of unique flavours and spices composed differently to any Indian food tried before.
Dishoom also excels in cocktails; the St. Martini, has got to be one of the most genuinely delectable cocktails I’ve ever had, mixing pomegranate and gin with homemade chilli syrup for a subtle kick. At around £5.50 each, you can start your evening with one or two in the elegant bar downstairs, even if you don’t plan to eat.
The name ‘Dishoom’ apparently refers to the old Bollywood sound effect produced when a hero lands a good punch and is compared in meaning to the expression ‘mojo’; judging by the packed tables at only 6.30 in the evening, Dishoom has absolutely succeeded in winning London with its unique mojo, and lands a seriously good punch.
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