When our team made it to our hotel in London we were all a little bit tired and a lotta bit hungry. Our research before leaving the states led us to a restaurant that was new to the Shoreditch area, where we were staying, but an established name in London. Dishoom Bombay Café is an Indian food restaurant that internet bloggers, fellow FRCH-ers and locals all recommended. Dishoom does not accept reservations for small groups like ours, but stays open fairly late to accommodate all that decide to wait.
Upon arrival, close to 9 PM, we were told there would be an hour and 40 minute wait. At which point we all looked at one another with the “are we gonna wait?” look. I can honestly say, I would be kicking myself today had we not waited.
The first host of the evening jotted our names down and informed us that we were “in line to get into the bar.” While we stood in line we admired the quaint veranda and eyed the dinner selections of others. All the while, we questioned why we hadn’t been herded into a crowded bar like restaurants we were familiar with. After less than 5 minutes of waiting in line, we were offered a free aperitif of sherry, or a non-alcoholic refresher.
Well wasn’t that a friendly little gesture? Just as we had finished our refreshment, we made it to the front of the line, where the second host greeted us, by name. We were given a buzzer and shown to the bar, or Permit Room, as they called it. Within moments of deciding on our drinks, a table was vacated to perch and enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks and snacks. If you are a fan of craft cocktails, then you will be quite pleased with the drink menu. The Chaijito was perfectly refreshing and uniquely memorable. We also ordered a fabulous appetizer of samosas, both lamb and vegetable.
Right on cue, just as we finished our cocktails, the buzzer went off, and our table was ready. Was that really an hour and 40 minutes? I couldn’t tell you, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
I should mention the décor of the restaurant because it truly transforms you to another time and place. Every table has a vintage steel fan bolted to the table top, retrofitted with a brass desk lamp. Old black and white photographs line the walls. This place just begs to tell you a story, and that is precisely what every dinner plate does. Each plate is white with black lettering that tells a story and literally draws a picture with words. The upscale finishes including white marble bars and table tops, seeded glass room dividers and buttery soft leather booths elevate the experience. However, there was just enough grit to make it all feel authentic.
Thankfully, all members of our party were willing to share their orders, and we were able to taste an array of dishes. Our spread included: Black House Daal, Lamb Briyani, Chicken Ruby, and Pau Bahji. All items paired perfectly with a Kingfisher beer. We filled our bellies and left no room for the desert stomach, but I am sure it would not disappoint.
While the food was fabulous and arguably one of the favorite meals on our trip across the pond, the experience is what I will always remember. From a simple gesture of a free refreshment, to the storytelling throughout, Dishoom is must-stop destination when visiting London.