Dishoom, Covent Garden: An homage to Bombay cafes

I knew very little about Dishoom before I visited. But every time I’ve passed it while shopping in Covent Garden, there have been queues spilling out of the doors.

The last time I tried to eat there, I was told there’d be a 90 minute wait. Part of me put this hype down to a) the fact it’s on Boundary Street – a prime tourist trap between Covent Garden and Leicester Square and b) its approach of upscale Bombay cafe is kind of unique. The curious side of me assumed that well, this place must be bloody good.

Either way, I finally got to eat here the other weekend to put the mystery to rest. And while I was admittedly a bit too absorbed in  catching up with some friends to pay it the level of attention I usually would, here are my general thoughts on eating in Dishoom.

 – The ambience is just right

The vision behind Dishoom was to recreate the traditional Bombay cafe that was introduced to India last century by Persian immigrants. They served as meeting places for people from all walks of life (read about them here).

The Dishoom story also tells you that they’re now disappearing from the streets of Bombay, so the opening in London was a homage to these much mourned establishments.

I’ve never been to India but if you visit the Dishoom website, you’ll see some fabulous photography of the country by Aashim Tyagi. Browse his website and you’ll see some fantastic images of these Persian cafs. And while Dishoom has a modern take on these traditional meeting places, the low hanging lamps, gorgeous dark wood and brass bannisters, as well as intimate booths and bare brick walls, all creates a charming and classic cafe feel.

I like the open kitchen and the fact there’s a casual feel about this place. If there was music, I didn’t notice. But there was a really pleasant chatty and friendly vibe going on.

Dishoom restaurant Covent Garden

Dishoom’s rather lovely interiors emanate the feeling of a traditional Bombay cafe

 – This is your place for quirky cocktails & flavoured Chai and Lassis

I just loved the huge selection of drinks and quirky names they give them here. From Bollybellini and Chaijito to a Bombay Pimm’s and Thumbs up Flip, this place has humour. I opted for the straight forward Chai which was fragrant and sweet – and a rather lovely way to start the meal. But I’m dying to go back and try the various flavours (chocolate, Baileys, Chai….) as well as well as those cool sounding tipples.

 

 – The Masala Prawns are pretty tasty

Nicely charred yet still quite juicy, not a bad plate to share…

Masala prawns Dishoom London

– The Chicken Ruby is DELICIOUS

This is how Indian curries should be. We were sharing various plates between three of us, but I kept being drawn back to this one. Deliciously seasoned with a bit of heat, yet creamy and silky sauce, this really was quite addictive.

Chicken Ruby Dishoom London

– The Paneer roll wasn’t such a hit

It wasn’t all bad. I will praise them on the undeniably fresh salad leaves and soft bread. There was also some Indian cheese in there. But it just didn’t hit the spot. I did like the tangy mint chutney though.

Paneer roll Dishoom London

– The biryani is anything but ordinary

I loved the biryani. It was full of different flavours and the cranberries added a sweetness I’ve never had in a biryani dish before.

Chicken Berry Britannia biryani Dishoom London

Alongside these dishes, we also had some classic naan (I couldn’t quite bring myself to order the cheese naan – does this work?) and  lamb samosas (which were super spicy). The food is definitely colourful and fresh here, and it was really nice to go for the sharing style, dipping in and out of different flavours.

Food in Dishoom Oh So London

– The cinnamon ice cream is delicious

Just when I thought I couldn’t fit anything else in, I did. I couldn’t help myself and ordered the cinnamon ice cream. What was good about this was it was barely sweet at all which let the cinnamon flavour take full stage. The ice cream itself was thick and creamy – a big hit, as were the kulfis on a stick which we also ordered.

Cinnamon ice cream Dishoom London

Verdict? While I’d like to come back to Dishoom and try several more items on the menu, I think I get it. The interiors are really quite charming, the staff are great and the food is well, pretty damn good.

Is it worth queuing for? Yeah I think so. Especially that chicken ruby.

Dishoom interiors London

Our bill came to around £25 ahead. Try it out – and let me know what you think.

Dishoom LondonDishoom, 7 Boundary Street, London, E2 7JE

@Dishoom

dishoom.com