I’ve heard about Dishoom gradually. It was my mom who first mentioned it: she had had a girls’ dinner with her friends at this really trendy Indian place in Shoreditch (which she called “Dish Room”…) and had recommended it strongly. I then saw that Sorted Food had eaten there. And then it escalated, a lot of food bloggers/vloggers would talk about it up to the point that I found it in London’s top restaurants! I had been harassing JB about it. Finally, colleagues at work were talking about it 3 days ago and I was thinking “that’s it! I have to go!” Imagine my delight when my mom said she’d take me to lunch there yesterday!
I don’t know what the other Dishoom restaurants are like, but the one in Shoreditch is a combination of cool hipster East London vibe with the recreation of a colonial Bombay café. The crowd’s there, the music’s there, the air fans are there, you have really big windows and “damaged” ceilings; they also have a patio/terrace in the front with a cool Indian lounge atmosphere which must be great to chill in on hot summer days.
Fortunately, I’m doing a placement near Liverpool Street station which means I only needed to walk for 10minutes to get to the restaurant. It’s always nice to have an excuse to walk around Shoreditch. I say “excuse” because living in South West/West London, Shoreditch, Hoxton and all this cool East London area is a long way away. I reached Boundary Street and could already smell fragrant spices from the street.
I walked in and gave them my name: luckily, they take reservations for lunch – they don’t for dinner unless you’re a party of 6 or more, but obviously, the ambiance in the evening must be a whole other thing.
The way it felt at 1pm was a cross between a restaurant and a really big cafe, big enough to deserve the title of “grand cafe”.
I sat at my table, waiting for my mom and devouring the menu with my eyes.
I was obviously going to order the naan and I also asked for a chai drink which turned out to be a small glass of chai latte, which was slightly underwhelming – it made me regret not going for those massive lassis instead. Next time…
My mom arrived and we were a bit in a hurry because we only had just under an hour before I needed to get back to work. We placed our order and then waited for our meal, nibbling on naan bread and an interesting selection of mild to spicy chutneys.
I had read a terrible review on The Guardian about their cheese naan… Indeed, cheese is something I usually don’t associate with Asian/Indian food but then again, it could be a simple prejudice that they don’t make cheese in India. I told my mom that if we were going to order another thing of bread (which was totally unreasonable in the first place) we should get the roti. My mom insisted, because she had had it before and she loved it. I didn’t argue and tried it. It wasn’t bad and I quite enjoyed it but I still doubt the authenticity of cheddar cheese in naan bread. Maybe one of you readers can enlighten me! They also have cheese toasts… It seems to me the idea of a British colonial café in Bombay is enough of a justification to put Brit-friendly dishes on the menu.
I had also asked for a bowl of greens, just because all of this needed a bit of freshness, and our waitress had said one bowl of rice would be plenty for us to share. It probably should have been… but it wasn’t. ^^ We ordered another bowl of basmati rice to soak all the beautiful and colourful sauces of our mains.
My thoughts on the food:
-The black daal was beautiful. I had never tried anything like it before and I was pleasantly surprised by how sufficient it was in itself with rice. I think there’s every spice which can possibly exist in this dish, and it’s cooked for so long that all the flavours come together beautifully.
-I got to try some of my mom’s chicken curry and it was tasty, but not mind-blowing.
-The greens were a bit soggy as they were served with an Indian spiced vinaigrette which made them less appetising as I reached for the bottom of the bowl.
-Plain naan and chutneys were as expected: very tasty and great to nibble on. I wouldn’t recommend the cheese naan, unless you’re really craving cheddar but why would you?
-Basmati rice was also very good. My mom and I discussed the differences of Vietnamese and Indian rice as we were stuffing our faces with our lunch.
-Like I said, drink was slightly underwhelming, and although the chai drink was heavy in spice, it wasn’t much more special than what I had had before.
What I will say is that I was a bit confused about the bill because we didn’t order any wine, but we did eat a LOT! And yet, our bill for 2 (including tip) was under £32… Which I think is great value for the amount of food we ate!
What I will say overall is that I don’t think the place is as famous because of the food. It was very very good, but it wasn’t the mind-blowing experience I was expecting. Julien and I love this small Indian restaurant in Nothing Hill and it’s as good if not better. It doesn’t however have the same ambiance and cool vibe than Dishoom. What I mostly loved – and some might disagree with me – was the way they recreated the interior of what you would think a colonial café in Bombay looked like. The staff is nice and cool and the menu is very big, so it enough options to please everyone, including cheese cravers for some strange reason. It’s overall a very nice restaurant and honestly pretty affordable! I think I’ll need to go again in the evening, or visit the one in Covent Garden to compare but I would recommend Dishoom Shoreditch if you’re going to be spending the evening there. The hype is more about the restaurant and its concept than its food.
xx foodie love
PS: I do need to point out that like any other Indian food, it was delicious and flavourful but incredibly difficult to digest; I saw my mom in the evening for dinner and neither one of us was hungry – although we had eaten a lot – and still felt a bit like crap…