Since our first visit to Covent Garden-based restaurant Dishoom a few months ago, we at ACHICA Living have been steadily converting all our friends to the wonders and delights of this exciting Bombay-style eatery. So when the people behind Dishoom announced that they were creating a super-cool new beach cafe on London’s Southbank, we really needed no convincing to go along and check it out.
The Southbank is currently bedecked in the style of a classic English seaside resort to celebrate the Festival of Britain 60th anniversary, complete with 48 tonnes of sand, candy-striped deckchairs and retro fish and chip vans.
In the midst of all this Britishness, Dishoom has established a slice of pure Bombay inspired directly by the city’s famous Chowpatty Beach. The usually drab Queen Elizabeth Hall terrace has been transformed into a fabulous, dazzling seaside hut the colour of an Asian sunset, framed by colourful balloons and wafting out funky retro jazz and tantalizing smells to entice passers-by.
Arriving at the launch we were greeted with a selection of stick-on moustaches to wear for the night, a hilarious icebreaker, followed swiftly by the first of many glasses of delicious Bombay Pimms Summer Cup, which the genius barristas serve spiked with ginger.
Dishoom’s beach branch is constructed in the spirit of ‘making-do’; all the furnishings are cleverly recycled and bear stickers informing you of their former lives. ‘I used to be a coffee cup’, claim the tables, while the benches outside used to be railway sleepers and the bar is livened up by old plastic bottles filled with multi-coloured water. The effect is ingenious; modern and intriguing, every detail in the place is worth a look, from the ribboned bathroom cubicles to the wall made entirely of rolled up Hindi newspapers and the old freight pallets covering the exterior.
While the Covent Garden branch does classic elegance in its decor and menus, the Southbank projects a cooler, more light-hearted feel. The long bar will no doubt be packed all summer long with party-goers loving the rum cocktails served in whole coconuts and the ‘Indian chip buttys’, also known as Vada Pau; fried potatoes in a bun with homemade chilli chutney. Y-U-M.
To soak up your Gola Ice cocktails (a naughty twist on the Chowpatty Beach staple) or accompany your classically Indian Thumbs Up drink, don’t leave without sampling what Dishoom does best; the food. At the beach hut the focus is mainly on smaller snacks like Pau Bajis and bacon naan roles, but each is lovingly crafted in the open-plan kitchen and must be tasted.
The creative team behind Dishoom deserves serious recognition; both the Covent Garden branch and the new Southbank venue are incredibly unique in terms of their design and atmosphere. Each brings a truly refreshing dining experience to London and should not be missed by visitors or city-dwellers alike…
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