Thursday 6 June 2013

Dishoom: Makes my heart go BOOM. GF indian food with a difference

It's like you are a saint!
We aren't talking about your normal indian restaurant. Dishoom is recreating the high-end all day Bombay cafe in London, and the food is as far removed from a bog standard chicken tikka masala as you can get.

Let's start at the very beginning. There's a cool buzzy atmosphere, and slipping into one of the side booths you feel at home; that is if your home was very cool and filled with sepia photos of Maharajas and old Indian advertising.

I love a cocktail, as you may have gathered by now. What do I love even more? A cocktail that masquerades as a health drink! Yes a healthy drink! The East India Gimlet is "The old-established drink devised for sailors to evade scurvy." WIN! It's actually Bombay Dry gin with Rose’s lime and a touch of celery bitters, garnished with a sprig of dill, just to reinforce its health giving properties. It certainly set my night off on the right foot. There's a full list of similarly different cocktails, such as the Chilli Martini my dinner date enjoyed.

Chicken and Pomegranate Salad
On to the food. Now I must admit I have eaten at Dishoom a few times now. Perhaps I was wanting to keep it to myself a bit, as there's a long enough queue already (it's a no reservations restaurant), or more likely, because you know I like to visit places I really love several times before I review it, just as, well, an excuse to eat there more.

On previous occasions I have enjoyed a wide variety of dishes from the gluten free menu, all delicious, but also all shared with the group I was dining with. The very good black daal, the excellent Ruby Murray (the ultimate curry with a nod to the English) and the chicken and pomegranate salad, to name a few. The fried okra is gluten free and well, we know how rare and amazing it is to eat something fried!

The stunning banana leaf steamed barramundi

This time around it being me finally DOING a review and having a willing and adventurous partner-in-dining, I got to select some of the more interesting items from the menu. The special that day was "Patra nu Macchi" - marinated barramundi fillet steamed in a banana leaf with a paste of fresh herbs. To say it was a taste sensation is an understatement. The flavours exploded in my mouth and the fish was soft, delicate and perfectly cooked. It was served with a savoury coconut chai - a little sip of the salty, creamy, coconutty drink between bites of the fish was a real culinary journey. I loved it. And yes, coconutty is a real word.

Tandoori Paneer
I also ordered the aforementioned Chicken and Pomegranate salad, as it's one of my favourites. I sometimes find indian food too heavy and it's rare to find indian food this fresh, delicious and light. The dressing is zesty and there is a lot of delicate spicing going on. Bites of the chicken with shredded cabbage and red onion, with the pop and crunch of the pomegranate seeds are delightful, and it's perfect for a summer's day. We tried a side of tandor cooked paneer, a must if you are a paneer fan.

Though I'm not really a dessert person, I can handle a liquid dessert. And no, I'm not talking about the martinis I consumed afterwards, I'm talking about the delicious Dishoom Chai tea. It was sweet but spicy, like a warm hug followed by a surprise tickle.

The service was super, and the staff very happy so ask the kitchen questions on your behalf if you have any concerns.

I'm at Dishoom a lot. And now you will be too. So the queue will be longer, darn it, but I'm willing to wait. You can thank me later.

Gluten Free Knowledge: ★★★★
Gluten Free Range: ★★★
Taste: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★★

Verdict: Delightfully different, light and punchy Indian food, in a very cool buzzy environment. 

Square Meal