Having enjoyed huge success with their Shoreditch and Covent Garden outposts, Bombay café Dishoom has opened the latest jewel in the crown at Granary Square near King’s Cross. Based in a restored Victorian industrial building, it was once used as a trade interchange between London and the British Empire, with the workhorses under the building powering the canals and turntables.
The place is cavernous, with a 250 seat restaurant and another 92 in the bar downstairs, with another bar area at the front. It’s been designed in the style of Bombay cafés from the late 19th/early 20th century and there are plenty of beautiful items of furniture, sepia photos and other little details from the period – although the old weighing scales are definitely not what you need having just enjoyed dinner there, even less so the sticker saying ‘do you weigh what you should?’ Not right now, no.
And that’s because the food is beyond incredible. Even the crunchy, salty fried okra, which I normally hate. We ordered a selection to share, including the house black dahl, chicken ruby, calamari, paneer tikka, cheese naan and masala prawns, all perfectly delicious, with the exception of the calamari – tender but the coating was so sweet it could’ve just been sugar. But the prawns were huge and juicy, the chicken curry used big chunks of leg meat (I wish more places did this) and the dahl was soupy, comforting and perfectly spiced, my second favourite of the selection.
The best dish by a mile was the King’s Cross exclusive, Nalli Nahari, described as: ‘a robust lamb-on-the-bone stew with generous spice , for strength and protection against faintness of heart. First relished by Nawabs who then employed its fortifying properties to fuel their labourers’. The lamb dropped from the bone, the rich, dark sauce was spicy but not overly so, and was smooth and silky. It feels like it’s doing you good, although I’m aware I’ve probably been sucked in by the lovely description.
Service wasn’t great; on arrival, although my friends were seated and had given a name, I was told to just go and find them. Our waiter was aloof at best, staff wouldn’t turn off the air-con (it was about 1 degree outside) and were very reluctant to move us, although did in the end.
The most pleasant surprise of the evening was the dessert course – I’ve never had much luck with Indian desserts so came to the conclusion that I just don’t like them – until yesterday that is. We pretty much ordered them all – cinnamon ice cream, Memsahib’s mess (Eton mess), guju chocolate mousse which was rich, velvety and incredibly chocolatey, and was the best of friends with the heavy, tangy Gujarati yoghurt it was served with. Against the advice of our waiter (!) or maybe because of it, we also had the kala khatta gola ice – pretty much a slushie with fruit syrup, chilli and salt. It was bizarre, somewhat refreshing but not particularly pleasant, especially compared to the other choices.
Definitely get to Dishoom – the atmosphere is great, it’s reasonable – £30 each including wine and service, and really is lovely lovely food.