Ahh Dishoom. Mention the very name to a Londoner and most will sigh with appreciation. This was a restaurant that took my breath away, and also managed to partially defeat my camera (so apologies for the lack of interior shots, everything and I mean everything came out blurred aside from the photos of the food).
Now let it be said before we begin, that I am in no way a food blogger, so I have no idea how this post is going to go. I am however, in part, a London lifestyle blogger and this is one restaurant that definitely lives up to the London hype.
I was super lucky to team up with Citizen M Hotel’s “CitizenMAG“, a magazine celebrating the best bits of this most vibrant of cities. I was asked to choose a restaurant that had already been reviewed to see whether or not it lived up to the hype. Indian is one of my absolute all time favourite cuisines, and when I saw the sheer amount of vegetarian options available it was a no brainer. It was also an experiment to see how Joseph liked being vegetarian and eating out, this being one of the first meals out we’d had together since he chose to make the switch – it was a great success!
I was warned by my friends at work to go early, as they’d stood outside queueing for hours when they went, so with that in mind we headed over to Shoreditch for 5.30, and even at that time we had a small wait for a table.
I can’t say whether or not the interior was traditional as unfortunately I’ve never been to India, but it was beautiful with warm lighting and a huge array of odds and ends displayed proudly around the restaurant. The ceiling was so high, and the walls were a mixture of brick and a more industrial exposed concrete (I think). Around the bar there was the usual selection of drinks, but some of these a lot more exotic than your average Smirnoff….
We were taken to our table in the downstairs section of the restaurant and immediately our waiter took our drinks order and gave us menus. He asked if we’d been before and recommended dishes from the menu based on the type of food we normally like and our individual dietary requirements. Dishoom provide a mixture of small dishes, and they arrive when they’re ready rather than all together, so it was recommended that we try a selection of three or four which we very quickly set to choosing.
The waiter brought us our first dish to try, Far Far. He explained that they don’t serve the usual poppadoms that you’d find at other Indian restaurants, and these were their alternative. They were absolutely delicious – very crisp and light and served with a variety of dipping sauces including one of the nicest chilli sauces I’ve ever tried, a mint and coriander, and a chutney.
Next up came the two side dishes, Bhel which was a mixture of Bombay Mix, fruit and salad – unfortunately probably our least favourite out of the lot as we were expecting something warm and this wasn’t – but still tasty! This dish was quite large (although also very light) and so we definitely didn’t eat it all but it was very nice to have on the side alongside our “mains”.
We also elected to try the Chilli Cheese Toast. I’ve never heard of anything like this on an Indian menu before but it was absolutely delicious. Perfectly melted Cheddar cheese spread over the tastiest bread I’ve had in a long time, it was seasoned with herbs and had a layer of chilli jam underneath. This was beautifully sweet and had just the right hint of spice. I think this portion lasted all of about five minutes before we’d polished it off and were eagerly awaiting the next course.
Of course, it isn’t an Indian without some Naan bread! We opted for the cheese Naan as neither of us had ever tried anything like it before and we wanted to have something a little different from the traditional Naan/Garlic Naan. This was gorgeous too, with cheese melted between two layers of Naan bread and seasoned with the same herbs as the Chilli Cheese Toast.
For our two main dishes, we chose the Paneer Tikka (pictured above) and the House Daal (below). I’d been wanting to try Paneer for a very long time, having been told by an old colleague that it was essentially the Indian equivalent of halloumi (and you must know by now how much I love halloumi). It was incredibly tasty, however I wasn’t expecting it to be as dry as it was. Now this is my own fault and not that of the restaurant! When I had read tikka on the menu, I wrongly assumed it would be in a tikka sauce, not knowing that in fact in India most tikkas are grilled like the paneer in the picture above, and if you want sauce it’s tikka masala. I know for future though and it was still delicious nonetheless!
Joseph was looking forward to the daal most – telling me stories of the time his old flatmate and he tried to cook it themselves, having to let it simmer for 24 hours before bringing it out to find the clay pot they’d cooked it in completely burned and blackened but the food inside cooked perfectly. Now this wasn’t to my usual tastes, but I was curious to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately it was a little too creamy and mild for me but Joseph absolutely loved it and polished it off very quickly.
By this point I was embroiled in the age old argument with myself about whether to get a dessert or not. I was super full but I had spotted the melt in the middle chocolate pudding with chilli ice cream and just couldn’t leave without trying it. Unfortunately my photo didn’t come out at all but I can quite honestly say that it was gorgeous. Cooked to perfection, the bitterness of the very dark chocolate was offset by the surprising flavour of the chilli ice cream. It worked so well together however I don’t think I’d have the ice cream on its own any time soon!
When we had paid the bill (courtesy of CitizenMAG, thank you so much!) and left the restaurant two hours later, we were shocked to see a queue stretching down the road and round the block – a testament to how truly wonderful this restaurant is! It is worth noting that they do not take bookings unless you are a group of six or more, so if you would like to try their food I would recommend arriving early as we did.
Have you been to Dishoom before? Let me know how you found it in the comments below!
This post is in collaboration with CitizenMAG and contains paid for products (the meal) however all opinions are my own.