DISHOOM | THE DISHIEST PLACE IN LONDON
Let me introduce to you a brand new brunch; the kind where a white dusty bloomer is replaced by warm, crispy naan and any sight of a builders tea is enriched with a hundred spices you can’t pronounce the name of. Upon entering Dishoom – a sixties style Bombay diner off a little Shoreditch (or soho) side street - a multitude of aromas swarm towards you, possessing you so much that you momentarily forget how to say ‘table for two please’. Dizzied by the spiced air and in awe at the effortless, inimitable interiors, my good friend Charlotte and I followed our waitress to a comfy cushioned booth glowing in the morning sun. The waiters are incredibly relaxed (so we got on very well here, bleary eyed on a Sunday) and imply the most popular dishes, without imposing on your decisions. My word of advice is to trust them; you will thank them later.
We go instantly weak at the knees at their description of the chai latte and take them up on the offer whilst we scan the menu in confusion. Naan bread at 10am in the morning? Spiced tomato relish at 10am in the morning? Green chilli omelette? At 10am in the morning? We thought we’d got it so wrong, having more or less professed in the art of hunting down london’s top brunch spots until now. However, we stuck it out - gave it a chance - mainly because we trusted the décor, the chic gold lamp that sat between us, and the look on fellow customers’ faces as they saw their Bun Maska swerving through the restaurant towards them, eyes gleaming as they envisaged it bathing in their perfectly cooled chai, just moments away from being drowned in warm, chocolately spices.
Our chai arrived and we both closed our eyes in slow motion as we took a sip, reopening them with a synchronised ‘hmmm’, before ordering a bowl of nutty house granola and a baked egg naan roll. We weren’t sure what to expect but as soon as the granola came we knew the egg naan would not disappoint. It was hands down the best granola I’ve ever eaten; perfectly roasted, perfectly sweetened and spiced to, well, perfection. The buttery crunchiness went hand in hand with the creamy chai, and the table was emptied before the egg naan arrived. We were half expecting some kind of multicultural Indian French toast but were pleasantly surprised after our sweet starter to receive a savoury serving of eggs, tomato and fresh coriander wrapped in thin, baked naan bread. The ingredients were so fresh and the naan was so light and crispy and evident in every mouthful it had been cooked just seconds before delivery. Never before have i tried a naan bread so thin yet so chewy and somehow able to melt in your mouth.
not our brunch but the sort of thing you can expect to walk past as your enter the restaurant in the AM.
I soon returned to Dishoom for dinner having eyed the menu and noticed pretty much all of my favourite foods, as well as a signature house dahl which needed to be done. There is always a queue and due to inevitable popularity you cant book on weekends. However, with a serious selection of cocktails and small plates, no one could feel too put out waiting at the atmospheric bar, in a huddle of excited customers in happy-weekend-mode. I had a chilli, rose and pomegranate martini which sounds ominous but really Hit. The. Spot. The dinner itself is definitely worth the wait if only for the green coriander chutney which I always have to order thirds of. A sweet tangy companion for the gigantic masala prawns and dry chargrilled chicken tikka, and a perfect dip for a fish cluster or okra fries. The abundance of flavours and spices are strong and mind-blowing at the same time, it’s almost impossible for your taste buds to keep up, and ordering small plates to share you get the bonus of dipping and mixing one juicy dish with another. The dinner was much healthier than the breakfast, with plenty of protein dishes, a few vegetarian options and sides of curried greens. Just go easy on the rice, you order several plates to share and I would honestly say you don’t really need it. If anything, get the garlic naan, which is thin, light and seemingly easy on the metabolism, and perfect for mopping.
I will warn that you get so caught up in a frenzy of making your way around each dish and experimenting with mixing and making all sorts of different, flavoursome combinations that you kind of forget you’re eating and that your body has a limit. Every time i have eaten here for dinner i have sat back with a sigh having tried almost everything with everything, twice, and then realised that my stomach isn’t so impressed with my behaviour. Everything is so new and all the flavours are so different that it is almost like a game rather than a mealtime. The portions are really valuable sizes and with lots of protein you get full quickly. Thankfully they only have two ‘sauce’ curries on the menu whilst everything else is chargrilled and dry so nothing if too rich or creamy (apart from the dahl) to leave you feeling sluggish at all. What you feel is satisfaction, if also a little over-indulgence.
To finish, cinnamon ice cream is recommended or coconut sorbet on a stick, if your mouth is too on fire for a hot chai. Alternatively, a Lassi is a fitting choice, and ultimately sooths the mouth, which would otherwise be buzzing all night long.
Shoreditch is my favourite of the two, more spacious and atmospheric than the Soho restaurant, and has a bigger bar area for your weekend wait. 7 Boundary, London, E2 7JE.