[London] Dishoom came up quite often when I asked for restaurant recommendations in London.
This is London’s first Bombay café.
It opened in Covent Garden in 2010. Since then, it has been a multi-awarded dining concept with 6 locations in UK: Edinburgh, Kensington, Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby and Covent Garden.
Diners rave about the food’s unparalleled authenticity, the ambiance, and the service. Yelp users have voted it as the Best Restaurant in UK for 2015 & 2016.
It is a great place to have Indian style meals, especially the breakfast. The Scottish Food Awards named it the Best Breakfast Destination for 2017.
Dishoom is a modern interpretation of Indian cuisine, offering quality food without the fuss. Its tagline “From Bombay with love” encapsulates the experience you are likely to get the moment you step inside the restaurant.
Extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
Dishoom pays homage to the Irani cafes once part of Bombay culture. In the 1960s, Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran opened almost 400 cafes in Bombay. Today, these old Irani cafes have almost disappeared, with fewer than 30 remain.
The overall design of Dishoom tells the story of the Irani cafes. The vintage décor and the upscale touches all come together to relive the atmosphere.
The monochromatic palette is a backdrop to about 30 tables topped with pearl-smoked Indian marble, matched with Bentwood chairs. The mirrors on the pillars add sparkle to the space. Walls are lined with mahogany trim and adorned with old sepia family portraits. Ceiling fans and white-pendulum lights hang from the ceiling.
You can reach Dishoom via Tube. From Victoria to Embankment takes about 10 minutes. From Embank Place, turn slightly right at Villiers Street, then turn left towards sidewalk. Continue straight on Adelaide Street, then turn left towards William IV Street. Turn right towards St. Martin’s Lane, then continue straight on Upper Saint Martin’s Lane. The walk takes about 11 minutes.
Walk-ins are allowed as they keep most of the tables unreserved. Online reservation is an option if you want a guaranteed table. Booked tables are yours for 2 hours.
However, if you go during nearing peak hour, you likely need to queue a while. So, reserve.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 11.45am on weekdays and from 9am to 11.45am on weekends.
The Big Bombay (£11.90, SGD$22.00) is a must. Your plate will be laden with abundant Akuri, char-striped smoked streaky bacon from The Ginger Pig, peppery Shropshire pork sausages, masala baked beans, grilled field mushroom, grilled tomato and buttered, home-made buns.
At first, I didn’t know how I would take to the food (since I am not that familiar with Indian cuisine), but I loved almost everything ordered. Oh, those explosion of flavours.
The Chicken Berry Britannia Biryani (£9.50, SGD17.19) – slow-cooked, aromatic, and just mildly spicy, had cranberries which added those touches of sweetness.
I don’t even order Daal that often back home. But the serve convinced me to, and there were no regrets at all.
Cooked over 24 hours, the dark stew lentils came creamy, rich, and deeply flavoured.
Pair that up with some of the Garlic Naan (£2.70, SGD4.88), and the combination felt so complete. The naan was baked to order, cooked within seconds in the searing hot tandoori ovens.
By the way, if you are there early enough, you can get the Bacon Naan Roll (£5.90, SGD$10.91) – Dishoom signature dish, perhaps the most instagrammed bacon sandwich in London. It is a bit of Bombay and a bit of London together.
While I was searching for “Butter Chicken” (couldn’t find any), I came across Chicken Ruby (£9.50, SGD) instead, cooked in a silky ‘makhani’ sauce.
The gravy was an aromatic butter based tomato cream base seasoned with spices and herbs, and the entire taste-profile was complex – like there were so many things going on, yet in harmony.
I won’t even say it was spicy, somewhat savoury with some sweetness, luxuriously creamy.
The House Chai (£2.70, SGD5.00) is warming comfort and satisfying spice. Made in the proper way. All who have tried it are swearing by it. Chai is a spiced, milky sweet tea that is India’s national drink.
Special menus are available including Vegan, For Children, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, and Group feasts.
Perhaps it was also the vibes. Dishoom somehow made Indian cuisine hip and accessible. And I would gladly say, make this part of your itinerary if you do head down to the city.
Dishoom (Covent Garden)
12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9FB
Tel: +44 020 7420 9320
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 11:00pm (Mon – Thurs); 8:00am – 12:00mn (Fri); 9:00am – 12:00mn (Sat); 9:00am – 11:00pm (Sun); Open as usual on bank holidays except Christmas time
Google Maps – Dishoom (Covent Garden)
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