Despite having more curry houses per capita than any other part of London, Brick Lane is strangely one of the hardest parts of London to find really good quality Indian (/ Bengali, Bangladeshi, Pakistani) food.
You can either order takeaway from Holy Cow or go to Tayabs or Needoo Grill in Whitechappel for really good value Indian food. Brick lane is a brilliant place, if a bit Lance Armstrong, but every curry I’ve had on Brick Lane has been pretty rank.
Dishoom Shoreditch follows Dishoom Covent Garden and is round the corner from Brick lane.
Dishhom’s concept is to pay homage to the all-day Bombay cafes of the late 19th and early 20th century mainly opened by immigrants from Persia. The food as a result is ‘colonial’ – or natural fusion food. ‘chilli – cheese (on) toast’ ‘Dishoom Slaw’ are on the menu for example.
The good news is it’s brilliant.
Located on Boundry street, Dishoom is impressive from the outside. There’s a nicely lit expensive looking sign and a courtyard leading up to it. This might not sound much but such subtleties make it stand out in this part of town.
Through the front doors and it’s a beautifully lit joint, (think Zuma, E&O, Hakkasan) with kitsch but cool décor welcoming front of house and most importantly great atmosphere. First impressions count for a lot and this was as good as I’ve had in ages. It’s what Beach Blanket Babylon East dreams of being.
The place is much bigger than expected and spread out over two floors. The top floor is prettier, while downstairs is more typical Shoreditch styling with faux pipe work on the celling. Downstairs also has an open kitchen with the chefs spinning naan like pizzas and a good cocktail bar. It may be in soft launch mode but the place is buzzing which is great to see.
There were six of us and we purposefully ordered what we thought we would be too much (it was 50% off and one our party can eat ALOT).
It was nearly all outrageously good. We ate everything.
To be clear. This is Indian Tapas. Not a curry house. The focus here is much more on grilled meats and fish marinated with limes and vinegars rather than rich creamy sauces. As a result you can and should try loads of everything.
Bhel – which is crunchy puffed rice with tamarind chutney and pomegranate seeds.
Spicy Lamp chops. The hottest thing we tried. Still not that hot. Charred black but not burnt on the outside and pink of the inside. Banging.
Dishoom calamari. Tiny baby calamari, well spiced and served with Lime.
Indian desserts are an acquired taste and not mine. Also Chai is not my cup of tea, and unnecessary after a gourmand evening.
Jay Rayner in his review of the original restaurant said that Dishoom…
“feels like the answer to a question nobody is asking. That question is: where do you go to eat if you fancy Indian food but are tired of your local curry house?”
He’s wrong, local curry houses can be boring but Indian food never should be. Amazing Indian food, in a great setting with atmosphere, that doesn’t leave you comatose is exactly what many are after. This is why we have Bernes, Amaya and Trishna.
Concept restaurants can fall on their arses on a banana skin of wanky PR, general weirdness and confused chefs. If you’re going to have a concept then it must be lived and breathed and owned by the owners, chefs and waiters otherwise it won’t feel sincere. For every Pollen Street Social and Dinner there’s hundreds of Notting Grills.
Dishoom Shoreditch is a brilliant addition to the area and may have finally solved the Brick lane riddle.
It’s their soft Launch until October 20th. 50% off. Go. Go.