I never really fancied eating at Dishoom for some reason, maybe because I thought it was going to be a supped up modern version of a local Tandoori, but then I tried their Ruby Murray at the pop-up on the South Bank and was hooked. It really was only going to be a matter of time before we ventured into their Covent Garden branch.
It styles itself on an old time Bombay café, which I have eaten at a few way back when in my traveller days, before age and comfort became more of a priority than simply travelling. How I miss those days.
The ones I remember in Mumbai served a type of Anglo Indian cuisine, that wasn’t too different from school dinners, but with a good touch of spice.
Hours you could sit there sipping on a chai or a beer reading a book, chatting to friends or general strangers looking to pass the time, with those rickety old ceiling fans buzzing away in a vain attempt to keep you cool in the Mumbai humidity.
The old style Bombay café is a piece of history, of a bygone era that will never return, except in a few dark corners where some people can reminisce on past glories that shall never be seen again.
Dishoom attempt to bring this to London, doesn’t really work for me. Their décor is too clean, too clinical, too manufactured, and too modern to be a Bombay cafe. It’s false and I wasn’t impressed.
The menu has also been Londonfied to give it something different, which it does, but deep down it is still the same old food, just served a tad differently.
The House Black Daal or Daal Makhani was creamy and had a deep unxious flavour to them. They were good, not the best I’ve had but still very good. It’s kinda sad, but I always judge an Indian restaurant by its daal.
The lamb biriyani came in its own little pot with a small amount of dough around the lid and edge of the pot. The rice was well cooked and seasoned well. The lamb however was a tad dry, and made me wonder if they had been cooked together or just mixed in at the last minute.
Thing was at our monthly meeting at work the following Friday, we had 3 different biriyani’s for lunch. Lamb, chicken and a veg and all 3 tasted much better than Dishoom’s own, and that was from a small hole in the wall in Southall.
The Paneer Tikka was nice and fluffy and served with a small bunch of wilting herbs and a lemon. We asked when we ordered if it was dry or came with a sauce. It was dry we were told. Our waiter was asked if we could have a small bowl of sauce to go with. It’s how the wife likes it. Our waiter just said “no”, and said we should order a curry to go with. I could see from her eyes, that this guy was not going to get a tip now, no matter how nice he was from here on now, and he didn’t. I think he could tell as well, as he never really tried from then on. Smart guy.
Dishoom has a nice vibe about it, and apart from the business like attitude of the place it is ok. Better than I thought it would be, but still just a jazzed up modern take on an Indian restaurant.
I’m not sure whether I would return or not. It’s a shame the pop up is going to close soon, as that is worth returning to.