Having cooed over that bacon naan roll on social media, we were as disappointed as the next person about the current global pandemic delaying the opening of Dishoom. I mean there were other Covid-related worries at the time, but it was valid.
We have the Dishoom ‘cookbook’ at home – we say cookbook, but it’s more than that. It’s a brilliantly evocative guide to Bombay and generally the best vehicle for pushing tourism to India we’ve seen. The photography is incredible and makes us want to hop on a plane immediately. Oh wait! Damn pandemic…
Anyway, with hospitality opening up, we did the next best thing and popped off to check out the restaurant. Firstly, we loved the interior. Despite being housed in the squeaky clean, brand new One Chamberlain Square, the clever sticks at Dishoom have created a restaurant that feels aged and character-packed paying homage to Bombay’s Swadeshi market. It’s a vast space – good for social distancing – and most tables were filled which warmed the cockles. We really wanted this to be a success and first impressions were massively pleasing. Obviously, there were hand sanitiser shenanigans, but we’re used to that now.
The menu is storming. We had a wonderfully enthusiastic waitress who talked us through it. Drinks are inventive – alcoholic and non. There’s good old Kingfisher if that’s your thing, but it’s well worth sampling the Virtuous Tulsi Sour – like a non-alcoholic whiskey sour with ginger, lemon and secret botanicals (we’d tell you if we knew) or the East India Gimlet for gin lovers. Glassware is gorgeous and the metal water jugs are dreamy. It’s all in the details.
The smells from the kitchen seriously got us salivating. We haven’t space to talk you through everything we ate, so we’ve picked our top three. If you only eat one thing go for the Keema Pau which didn’t look much, but tasted incredible. Warming spiced lamb mince with chilli, ginger, coriander, mint, bay, garlic, onion and more served with the softest rolls either for mopping or piling the meat in and eating like a sandwich. Honestly, beautiful.
If you eat two things, we’d add in the chicken Ruby – one of the best curries we have ever eaten. I guess most similar to butter chicken, but with a makhani sauce. Rich, perfectly spiced, loads of sauce, tender charred meat… it was the dream. If you eat three things try the House Black Daal. So moreish, we loved the depth of the sauce and could eat this on the daily. We’ve looked at recreating it at home but realised we’d have to give up a significant chunk of the weekend, so we’ll happily be leaving it to the experts.
We reckon Dishoom will quickly become one of our regulars and while Birmingham isn’t short of Indian restaurants, this is different and inventive and only enhances the food scene.