Nothing like a posh soiree out in a glamourous and theatrical setting to quicken the blood, is there? Especially when most of my week is spent chest-deep in chaos dealing with disorderly small family members. I recently had the task of organising one of my dearest pals N’s hen dinner, and thought immediately of having Indian food at Dishoom, King’s Cross. I had been there once before and fallen in love with the heavy faceted glass tumblers in their underground cocktail lair (I love a good glass, me) and thought the food VERY good. Although I can’t tell you about a single thing I ate that night, because I was really trousered on Indian-style ‘Chai-jitos’ and spent the meal loudly telling our friends P and C that I REALLY REALLY LOVE THEM because they were emigrating to France. Sniff.
Anyway. This hen dinner was coming up and there were going to be 15-odd starving hungry women who needed excellent food, excellent drinks and no shoddy half-arsed set-menus thank you very much. This whole thing had to be brilliant and perfect. And there was the problem. How many places slap-bang in central London does anyone know that will do you a large group table without massively sulking, not to mention serving you hideous tepid food all at different times, leaving some starving at one end of the table while the others get theirs the minute they take their first sip of wine? Not to mention while costing the frigging EARTH for a lacklustre set menu*. So I called Dishoom and they were really nice and spent the next few weeks being very calm on the phone while I kept ringing back and forth with endless things, like people adding to the group, then cancelling, then adding themselves back again….and so on!
Let’s just say the night there was a success and my blood pressure lowered to nearly normal – everybody found the restaurant (which is situated near the now-defunct Bagleys nightclub), nobody had to queue to get in (thank f*ck, because the queues are horrendous and you only escape this fate if you have a large table reservation) and the food was top dollar. We had a set menu to keep things easy, and friendly waitresses kept on coming with massive sharing platters of curries, rotis, naans, delicious grilled morsels, samosas and crunchy Bel Poori. There was SO much food. We got every atom of the leftovers bagged up to take home. Nothing wasted – it was much too good to leave behind. Great value at £27.50 per head (not including booze). Just when we felt we couldn’t squeeze another morsel in, the waitresses brought us delicious kulfi ice creams on lolly sticks. Mine was like frozen creamy caramel. It was no trouble to eat, even after piling my gob with 16 naan breads.
Just walking into Dishoom makes you feel very ‘au courant’ – the atmosphere is buzzing and the restaurant is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It’s themed in the style of the ‘Irani Cafes’ of old Bombay which are now a bit rare – all glossy dark woods, old fashioned floor tiles, ceiling fans and warm colours. Intoxicating smells of incense waft around. The downstairs cocktail bar is very lush and dimly lit, with snug booths and twinkling lights. We ate our meal at the enormous wooden table you can see below:
I was so stressed on the night that I totally failed to take any pictures, so all the photos are supplied by their press office. Like you can’t tell!
Dishoom served everything with fluffy buttery rolls – I APPROVE:
The house black daal is really different to any daal I’ve tasted elsewhere – creamy, mild and intensely savoury, with a comforting Indian ‘gravy’ taste (much nicer than it sounds):
All the curries are full of punchy flavours and nothing is too heavy:
Apparently Dishoom’s breakfast bacon and egg naan rolls are a thing of beauty, and my husband rates the fried eggs on chilli cheese toast, so there’s another two reasons to go back…
Dishoom King’s Cross
5 Stable Street
*Set menus. Hmmm. They can be absolutely nightmarish. The worst set menu lunch of my life was aboard a fast-travelling coach in Peru, where all passengers were given a plastic TV dinner tray covered with foil and a beaker of yellow-fluorescent Inca Cola drink. Beneath the foil was a vile stew that smelt of death, some rice that tasted of soap, a section for gravy and an adjacent ‘dessert’ compartment filled to the brim with purple Jello. My friend Nick polished off the lot, while the ‘bus hostess’ sang karaoke and made us play bingo, trying to distract us from the bus’s alarming trajectory as it heaved its way around hairpin bends in the Andes. Nick got violent food poisoning about 40 minutes later. I ate only crisps for the duration of our 12-hour journey.