Dishoom, Covent Garden, London 2012 (A)

On arriving in London pretty early on Saturday morning (about half ten) we were completely free of plans. Yes, I’d booked us dinner for both Saturday and Sunday, I hadn’t given much though to what we would do in-between eating! So, after a quick nibble of some fine meats and a vino in Camino, we jumped on the tube to Covent Garden for a wander around.

Dishoom was recommended to me for breakfast, but having breakfasted in India, I wasn’t all that bothered about an English breakfast stuffed into a naan. The rest of the menu, however, did appeal. I still hadn’t purposely set out to eat here, but I spotted it in the corner of my eye just as we decided it was time for lunch. With rumbling bellies and a desire to avoid the chains we went for it.
The restaurant was busy and I was surprised (and pleased) to see groups of Indian diners (Indian born Indians at that), as, yes this is an Indian restaurant, but with those breakfast butties, I wouldn’t have thought it was targeting that market.
We treated the menu as a tapas menu and picked a few dishes to share along with a couple of cocktails. Yes it was lunchtime and yes we had a long day ahead of us, but with names such as bollybellini, it was hard to resist temptation.
As I’m a lover of martinis and chilli, I had to go for the chilli martini. It looked good, but with the promise of a bit of a kick, I was disappointed to find that it was so heavy on the pomegranate that the cocktail lacked of any kick of either alcohol or chilli. Gav’s chaijito, however, was a real success. Made with chai infused rum it was packed with warming spices, but lifted by the fresh mint.
Food wise I had decided to be ‘good’ and went for the spicy sweet paneer tikka salad (£6.90). It was a decent serving and there was plenty of fresh herbs in there including coriander and mint, but I was disappointed by the paneer; there wasn’t much and it wasn’t particularly spicy or sweet. Meh, it helped me on my way to achieving my five a day.
I had to go for the calamari (£5.20) and, although it was a little overcooked for my liking, I enjoyed the sweet syrup served with it making the dish a success.
Gav had ordered desi fish fingers (£4.20) and although the menu hadn’t given any indication of what we should expect, I had expected something akin to Bird’s Eye fish fingers, just with added spice, but we were served finger sized pieces of masala fish. Again I was disappointed, especially as the fish was pretty dry.
Chilli cheese toast was pretty bland (£3.20), with nowhere near enough chilli. It was cold too.
House black daal (£4.70), however, was superb. Really tasty and I enjoyed mopping it up with the perfectly light roti (£1.70).
We’d been served some chutneys shortly after ordering, and a bit before the food arrived, and although they were tasty (especially the garlic and chilli offering, which, unlike anything else we’d had, really did pack a punch) we hadn’t been served anything to have with them. It was like a pickle tray without the popadoms; bizarre.
So, most of the dishes disappointed, but strangely, I would happily go back. I’m not sure how or why, but I’d managed to have a really good meal. Service had been friendly, efficient and easy, the atmosphere was great (really informal), the place looked good and the prices were right too.
I’d recommend Dishoom to others too and tell them to have the daal and the calamari, but avoid the chilli cheese on toast and the fish fingers.
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