Review of 'Dishoom'

logo.jpg On a rainy Saturday we were on Kingly Street looking for somewhere to eat. Dishoom grabbed our attention - as it had many others judging by the queue of people waiting at the bar for a table - but it has been somewhere I have wanted to try for quite some time. We were told we would have about 20 minutes to wait so were given a buzzer and directed to the bar. The bartender was very friendly and I eventually settled on “Thums Up” (cola from Bombay; £2.90) which was a bit unusual tasting but very refreshing.

The interior is very cozy - read: Cramped but comfortable with wood featuring throughout. The large bar area near the door has a series of high tables opposite with bar stools. We had to share with a couple of other people but this was not too much of a problem. Our table was ready bang on time with the buzzer taking me back to the front desk.

Crowded Inside

Our table was in the front room in the middle but towards the back and our waiter was extremely helpful throughout describing the menu and offering great recommendations when asked. The lunch menu itself was on the place-mat but very simple to figure out with “Small Plates” on the left (with “Ruby Murray” dishes - curries), featured plates in the middle (Grills, and Biryani) and side dishes on the right (Salad Plates, Bread & Rice, Vegetable Side Dishes, and Roomali Rolls).

The decor was somewhat eclectic with a large room divider in the middle looking like something out of the 70s complete with 45s (single records for those of you not old enough to know) and a few rather beaten up looking books.

I am a sucker for calamari so we ordered the “Dishoom Calamari” (£5.90; “Tiny tender squid, grainy crumb crunch, quick-fried and tossed into a bowl with Dishoom drizzle”) and on our waiter's recommendation we somewhat reluctantly ordered the “Okra Fries” (£4.20; “Fine lady's fingers for the fingers”). We were concerned that they would go soggy and be not very nice as is so often the case with okra but the waiter was quite insistent this would not be the case. We need not have been concerned as they were absolutely delicious - Crunchy, not at all overcooked with a pleasant mix of spices. The three sauces that accompanied the starters were sensational and added the just right amount of flavour without being overwhelming nor over-powerfully (spicy) hot. The calamari here was actually the disappointment - not really a lot of flavour and actually, dare I say it, slightly chewy.

Appetisers - Okra and Calamari

For the important business of the main course I wanted to stay away from the grills as (1) my companion tries to avoid red meat and (2) it seemed a bit boring. I had wanted to order the “Jackfruit” biryani (£8.90; “Delicious, savoury jackfruit and delicately saffron’d rice, potted and cooked with mint, coriander and sultanas”) but our waiter steered us towards the “Chicken Berry Britannia” (£9.50; “The Dishoom variation on the legendary Irani Café special, with cranberries”) instead. We were told that you can only get this dish in Dishoom here in the UK and in the Irani café's of Bombay itself. Another hole in one. Absolutely delicious with perfectly cooked chicken (tender, and juicy) and the rice beautifully fluffy and slightly al denté. To be slightly different, we had a side of “Garlic Naan” (£2.90; “With minced garlic and coriander sprinkle”) but I found the garlic pieces on it were slightly raw and not terribly appealing though the bread itself was fine. On our waiter's urging we had a bowl of raita (£2.90; “Delicate minty yoghurt, cool as the cucumber”) - Actually, he rather insisted on it saying that it MUST be ordered with a biryani and, having tasted it with the biryani I think he had a point. Delicious and just the right amount of flavour without being too boring. A bowl of greens (£3.90; “Grilled broccoli, snow peas and spinach tumbled with chilli and lime”) topped off the main spread of the meal - Delicious and perfectly cooked (again, al denté) with a nice spice mixture on top.

Chicken Berry Britannia

This was all quite a spread even though it was a Saturday lunch but our waiter had us look at the dessert menu anyway. After a brief look I rejected the “Bun Maska Pudding” (£5.50) - basically what sounded like a bread pudding - the “Memsahib's Mess” (£6.90) - basically what looked like a trifle (not my favourite) - the “Kala Khatta Gola Ice (£3.50) - shaved ice with flavouring (too simple) - and a bowl of ice cream (£3.50) - also too simple - but instead chose the “Dishoom Chocolate Pudding” (£6.90; “Melting-in-the-middle chocolate pudding served with a scoop of Kashmiri chilli ice cream. You will not want to share.”) to which our waiter actually added (free of charge) an additional serving of cinnamon ice cream. Wow. This was completely amazing. I was expecting more of a chocolate fondant but instead received a puddle of very dark (as in, not terribly sweet) chocolate sauce with a thin crispy edge in the middle of a plate with the chilli ice cream (which was not terribly hot at all). The cinnamon ice cream was amazing - extremely creamy and delicious with a very strong flavour of cinnamon throughout.

Chocolate Pudding with Chilli

The waiter was spot on throughout the meal and very friendly to boot which really made this meal special. The food was excellent and very well prepared. The restaurant was a bit noisy but with the furnishings not as noisy as others. The price was reasonable with the bill coming in at £45.11 for the two of us (including a 12.5% service change added automatically but not including our bar drinks which I paid for separately). We were certainly not hungry for a long time afterwards!

Dishoom is a chain with five restaurants in London and one in Edinburgh but this is definitely not chain food. Interesting and very tasty, well worth a visit in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Don't let the crowds put you off.


Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-02-10

Cuisine: Indian

Address: 22 Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5QB ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Oxford Circus

Location: London (England) - Soho



Show in Google Maps  Get Directions

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7420 9322