Dishoom is an Indian restaurant as far away from red flocked wallpaper as you can imagine – instead, painted brick walls, marble tables, brass rails and brasserie-style banquettes define the decor. Old-style telephone cords strung across the ceiling, supporting numerous pretty hanging lights, are reminiscent of some vistas in India obscured by too many telephone lines. But there’s something immediately welcoming about this mishmash, echoed by the charming staff. The service is efficient and plentiful, even in these early days. It feels family-run and is, by two brothers, Adash and Amar Radia, with their cousin Shamil Thakrar. On both my recent visits, many of the customers were Indian family groups which bodes well.
The menu format is well in tune with current practice of small plates, but in fact harks back to the many Persian cafes opened in Bombay at the beginning of the 20th century. Then they provided a meeting place for cultural life, where snacks were available all day. Family photos, as here, adorned the walls. Dishoom hopes to recreate the same ambience with Chilli Cheese Toast 2.90, Lamb Samosas 3.90 and Calamari with Zesty Lime and Chilli 4.50. Not groundbreaking stuff, but expertly cooked, as are the larger dishes, on hot grills visible in the brightly lit kitchen.
I have yet to get there early enough for breakfast, but a Breakfast Lassi of Banana, Mango and Oats 3.20, followed by the Full Bombay 8.50, would get the day getting off to a flying start. For lunch or dinner the deliciously spiced Dill Salmon Tikka 7.90 or Chilli Lamb Salad 7.50 come accompanied by perfectly balanced sauces. This is intelligent Indian cooking at its best.
Why Dishoom? It’s the sound effect in a Bollywood movie when a bullet swooshes through the air, or the hero lands a punch. Say it aloud.
12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9FB
No bookings as yet