|Dishoom Edinburgh - 5 minutes before being totally full.|
Dishoom, Edinburgh review - "Not dissimilar to dining at a decent tapas restaurant our dishes came thick and fast, as opposed to entrees followed by mains. My central dish of chicken 'Ruby Murray' - love the wink to Cockney rhyming slang possibly referencing Dishoom's London origins - was an absolute belter..."
Excitedly getting ready to see one of the groups that provided the soundtrack to my youth - in the form of the always inventive and enduring Pet Shop Boys - play live in Edinburgh the other day got me thinking about cooking and eating. Bear with me on this one! As for me, food and music have a lot in common. My tastes are really quite broad and varied with regard to both - I'm not a huge fan of 'death metal' however, either as a musical genre or a cuisine. I'm always looking out for something new and interesting in terms of a dish, tune, restaurant or artist. But I also regularly hanker after the familiar, be it in terms of food or music, although it's always refreshing to encounter an updated take on an old favourite from my younger days.
|Vada Pau - spicy chip butty, anyone?|
Apparently taking its name from a Hindi term referring to the noise made by a ricocheting bullet or landing punch in Bollywood action films - think "kerpow" in the original 60s Batman TV series - Dishoom is majorly inspired by Bombay's (Mumbai's) Irani cafés. These were opened by Zoroastrian devotees emigrating from Persia (modern day Iran) from 19th Century onwards. Now dwindling in number, such venues are about all-day dining, where the well-to-do and those not quite so financially fortunate all rub shoulders together, and food that draws influence from the middle-east and across India arrives fast and fulsome.
|Chilli cheese toast - sort of Indian rarebit.|
Also equally welcoming are Dishoom's servers, who are only too happy to talk the unfamiliar through the pretty extensive menu. Depending on the time of day, this focuses on: breakfast dishes such as tomato, onion, chilli and coriander "Bombay" omelette with "Fire Toast", or maybe a bacon or sausage naan roll; small plates or salads - such as the enticing paneer and mango - ideal for lunch or dinner, if two or three plates are combined; and larger grilled dishes and biryanis for those who crave something more substantial. Add to this an inviting range of rice, Southern-Asian breads, and vegetable sides and there is certainly something to cater for all tastes, including those with particular dietary requirements - our friend Tina was particularly grateful that there is a dedicated menu that identifies everything that is gluten free.
To be honest, so inviting is Dishoom's menu I was a wee bit concerned we might have over-ordered for a pre-concert early dinner, with each of us going for a more substantial dish but agreeing to share a plethora small plates between us. This is a rare occurrence for JML, a chap for whom attempts at "sharing" platters usually results in a fork in the back of one's hand.
|Chicken Ruby Murray and kachumber.|
If larger dishes were towards the "superb" end of catering, the plates we decided to share were also really quite impressive. I've never really thought of cheese on toast or a chip butty as being particularly typical of Indian food. Well think again food blog boy, as chilli cheese toast provided a splendid, spiced hit of fromage on a crisp slice of bloomer, whilst “vada pau” - sautéed potato enhanced by the addition of authentic "Ghati" masala spice mix and sandwiched on a buttered pau bun was as irresistible as an offering from a really great chippie, but with even more flavoursome whistles and bells. Masala prawns were delightful in their simplicity, subtly spiced and char grilled to ensure maximum smoky succulence. Dishoom slaw provided a tasty eastern slant on this staple accompaniment with crisp, sliced cabbage tossed in a mild, yet punchy, curried mayonnaise and then bejewelled with tangy-sweet pomegranate seeds.
|Dishoom slaw & masala prawns.|
To be quite frank, it's hard to find fault with the Dishoom experience. The food is fresh, flavoursome and well prepared, the service is top notch without being imposing, the surroundings akin to an Edwardian Bombay gentleman's club where you are still welcomed even if sporting jeans and trainers. A bit like seeing a much-loved band whose dazzling show makes you view the familiar in a totally new light, Dishoom is Indian food, but not as you know it. "Kerpow" indeed!
Ambience - expect a buzzing restaurant/bar with a welcoming and relaxed vibe.
Food - 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Value - 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Value - 8/10