There is a stupendous amount of snobbery in the food world.
Some brag about the number of Michelin-starred restaurants they have visited, others think that macarons are the best dessert in the world while others eat obscure animal parts for the gross factor and shock value. The list doesn’t end there. ..
So earlier this year everyone jumped onto the Dishoom bandwagon.
Did I mention there’s a sheep mentality among foodies too? (Tom and Sally are posh and if they like the place then it must be good. This famous food writer wrote a good review. Oh, I must agree with them to be part of the “in” crowd.)
After a few months the hype in the blogosphere died down and I decided it’s time I paid Dishoom a visit. It’s common for a new restaurant to start off with a bang by producing fantastic food and service then some time down the line loses the plot all together. Unexcited and sceptic to the nth the degree I made my way over there. Yet, I was still hopeful because I certainly didn’t want to travel almost two hours for a shoddy meal.
The eye-catching pink bicycles were hard to miss. Swiftly I was appointed a table and pored over the menu while waiting for my dining companions to arrive. One habit of mine that kicked in the past year or two is to ask for recommendations from the waiter. It really helps when the menu is either too big or exotic plus it’s an interesting challenge to eat what is placed in front of me.
Thankfully, the Veggie Samosas (£2.90) were not dripping with oil but the filling was somewhat average. A new, moreish discovery was made, called Bhel (£3.90), which is a classic Bombay snack comprising puffed rice, pomegranate and tamarind chutney. Although not the best, the Zesty Lime and Chili Calamari (£5.20) was definitely one of the better calamari dishes on offer in London. When I read “bhaji” I think of the grated vegetables rolled in balls that are then deep-fried, so it was a surprise when the Pau Bhaji (£3.90) arrived. The dip had a strong root vegetable taste and a quick read on Wikipedia revealed that the chef had stayed true to the authentic dish, right down to the chopped onion, sprinkling of coriander leaves and dash of lemon. Remarkable.
Five juicy, meaty Grilled Masala Prawns (£9.50) arrived which exploded with flavour. The fiery Spicy Lamb Chops (£10.50) were perfectly cooked; crispy on the outside and sweet and moist on the inside. The show stopper for me was the House Black Daal (£4.70). Deeply satisfying, I could have happily munched morning, noon and night on my fresh Roomali Roti (£1.70) dipped in this creamy pulse dish.
When eating out I’m always looking for inspiration for how to jazz up meals at home. Something that never occurred to me was to add dried berries to my Chicken Biryani (£7.90) – a true winner. Yikes, I forgot what the Curry of the Day was called but everyone around the table made the right kind of noises!
Understandably after such a huge feast there was just not any room for dessert so we gave it a miss. The coffee served in a glass was rather quaint.
At the back of the restaurant is an open kitchen and it’s somewhat mesmerising to watch how fresh roti is made.
My dining companions happened to be my parents who visited India earlier this year. They stayed and dined at Taj: Land’s End in Mumbai and said that Dishoom beat its motherland restaurants hands down. Of all the thousands of restaurants in London, they would like to revisit Dishoom next time they are in town. ‘Nuff said. The Minnaar clan had jumped onto the Dishoom bandwagon. Baa.
9/10: All dishes were of excellent quality.
8/10: Portions were substantial.
9/10: The knowledgeable staff made superb recommendations and were very attentive.
8/10: It did the job.
8/10: Café-style interior and casual atmosphere.
9/10: Forget about your run-of-the-mill Tikka Masala, Korma and other anglicised tosh. Go to Dishoom for excellent real Indian food!
P.S. I was a guest of Dishoom.
12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane