My journey to Dishoom, London`s first Bombay Café was a challenge. Through the manic streets of W1 on December 16th, I carefully wove my way through an avalanche of Christmas shoppers, all armed to the hilt with bulging carrier bags, yelling last minute party preparations down their phones. Inside Dishoom, I made my way across the manic café, carefully weaving past busy Santa-hatted waiting staff who were laden down not with carrier bags but with heavenly aromatic trays of lunches. The fragrance was overwhelming. There were no empty chairs either, always a good sign.
We were sat at a table where we could safely watch other diners and the bustle of the street from a safe distance. As it was so cold outside I requested the Desimulled Wine, with added cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and black pepper. A comfort drink for starters, presented in a plain and slightly aged glass. This instantly gave a welcoming authentic Bombay feel. A taste of what was to follow.
As my colleague and I were embracing the festive mood, we happily accepted the manager`s recommendation of the `Christmas Feast for 2` (£27.50 per person), plus an extra chicken tikka dish. Fortunately this `feast` was served with a Winter Pimms (with `Calvados and cloudy apple juice, gently spiced`). This seasonal winter warmer helped to thaw away the chills in time to enjoy the food.
The starter was Bhel, a classic Bombay snack made from puffed rice, pomegranate and tamarind chutney. It was tangy and refreshed the palette nicely. To accompany it, `Dishoom Calamari` was served with zesty lime and chilli.
The knowledgeable waiting staff are in abundance so there is always someone nearby to top up drinks etc. After a round of world renowned Kingfisher beer came the main present. The Flaming Turkey Raan, a whole leg of turkey prepared in the traditional Indian Raan style, marinated and cooked slowly over a whole day. A far cry from the dry, lacklustre bird normally found on your Christmas plate, this turkey held its moisture and deep penetrating flavours. It was accompanied by the House Black Daal, Raita (cool yoghurt) and a decent choice of breads. The extra chicken tikka we were recommended went well and boasted a wonderfully smoky flavour.
I just had room for desert and was served 4 mini mince pies served with a hint of chilli and spiced custard, a deliciously sweet note to end on, satisfying my sweet tooth. My colleague opted for the passion fruit and ginger Gola Ice, a more refreshing finale.
Though Dishoom has the informal feel and the décor of a high end café, the food is definitely that of a high end restaurant. The Christmas Feast is a real cracker and will top my Christmas list next year.
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