18 October 2013

Dishoom


You shouldn't necessarily look forward to someone leaving work, but when their leaving meal's booked for Dishoom, it's hard not to. At half five on the dot, we packed up, shut up shop and headed over to the legendary bombay cafe in Covent Garden.

It's a place I've heard a lot about and have been eager to try ever since I managed to get us a table. Based on Irani cafes where businessmen sit alongside barrow boys, Dishoom tries to capture the atmosphere that is so often lacking in eastern establishments. Even at six o'clock, the places was buzzing - tables were groaning under the weight of plates, waiters were flitting around and is that a Bollywood version of a Madonna song in the background? The interior is all tiled floors, rich golds and blacks, glass everywhere - I felt as if I'd been transported into a movie set with all the attention to detail. From the art-deco lighting to the trinkets in the bathrooms and the many family photographs splashed all over the walls, Dishoom was inordinately welcoming.


We were given a booth downstairs and jumped straight into drinks. I went for a chaijito ('smoky rum and Dishoom sweet-spice chai syrup muddled with fresh mint, cordiander, ginger and lime') before trying out the Bombay Colada - and promptly finding my new favourite drink. A twist on the classic colada, Dishoom add chai syrup and lime juice to cut through any heavy cream, and mix in coriander and cardamom seeds giving the most deliciously aromatic taste.

We then started with small plates. Flavoursome lamb samosas, calamari, chilli cheese toast (naughty) and bhel (puffed rice, nylon sev and bombay mix with fresh pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime and tamarind) slipped down far too quickly. No standing on ceremony; all about sharing and passing round the table. 

For mains, we shared again ordering the chicken berry britannia biryani, spicy lamb chops, lamb boti kebab, charred masala prawns, raita, house black daal, chicken ruby (their take on a curry) and lots of rice, naans and roomali roti. The flavours were so intense and aromatic, there was a totally different kind of thing going on compared to the typical Friday night takeaway. We devoured everything, mopping up the last bits of sauce with the flat roti and cooling down with the healthy-ish raita. 

And just when we thought we were totally full, we ordered desserts...to share. We went for the Guju chocolate mousse, which comes rich, salted and with fruited yoghurt, and the Memsahib's Mess - another aromatic take on a class - Eton Mess. Empty bowls pushed aside, we finally decided to leave - sated - and come back again very soon.

Service was relatively quick, but very knowledgeable. As we left, people in the queue outside were given steaming cups of coffee and milk to keep them warm - a nice touch. The whole place has a nice touch and gets a four out of five.
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