If I want Indian food, I just need to cross the street from my flat. But if I want Indian food and a night out, I head to Dishoom in Covent Garden.
Dishoom is inspired by the cafes set up by Iranian immigrants in Bombay last century. As a result, the food is Indian with a twist – so branch out from your go-to curries here!
While I think the food is great, it does require commitment. Expect to spend up to 45 minutes waiting outside the restaurant, before spending another 45 minutes waiting in the bar downstairs. You can order small plates while you wait to go with your cocktails – I recommend the calamari and okra fries to help tide you over. Speaking of cocktails, I’m a fan of the Bollybellini (raspberries, lychees, rose and cardamom with Prosecco).
Once you’re seated, immediately get yourselves some Pau Bhaji (delicious mashed vegetables with hot buttered pau bun – £3.90). Having a little something in your stomach before you go wild on the menu will save you from ending up with too much food (trust me – I’ve been there!) My top recommendations are the Black House Daal (£4.90), the Chicken Ruby (£8.20) and Haleem (£16.50 – Lamb, cracked wheat, barley and lentils pounded and served with green chillies, ginger, fried onions, mint and sesame naan). Get an extra naan or roti and a single serve of rice, and you’ll have enough food for three.
I’ve never been able to manage pudding afterwards, but I do love the chocolate chai (£2.70) to finish.
If you’re going with a group of six or more, you can reserve a table for dinner. You can also reserve tables for any size at lunch or breakfast (yes, breakfast – it’s surprisingly tasty! I recommend the bacon naan or the kejriwal).
The restaurant can be loud but it’s also quite intimate, so it’s date appropriate if you don’t mind waiting. However, I prefer it with a group of friends so you can try more dishes!
The good: Aside from the food, I love the atmosphere – it’s casual, cozy and just a little hipster all at the same time!
The bad: The wait can be killer, especially if you’re already hungry.
The insider tip: The underground bar doesn’t have phone reception, but it does have free ‘ChaiFi’ so bear that in mind if you’re trying to coordinate plans.
Address: 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden
Hours: Mon – Thurs 8am-11pm; Friday 8am – midnight; Sat 9am – midnight; Sun 9am-11pm
Reservations: Online – for groups of 6 only after 5.45pm