It was another beautiful August day in London and I was perched at Regent’s canal, sipping chilled Domaine De Cabrials as the barges gently slipped by. My delicious daydream was brought to an abrupt end by a text from Mr. Flavour: “Almost back from Brighton, eaten nothing but chips for last 3 days. Need proper food”. My other half had spent the weekend at a stag-do by the sea. Between playing footgolf, watching Greyhounds race and impressing the lads by downing 20 pints a day, the poor Munchkin clearly didn’t get the chance to eat properly. I imagine that despite his hefty frame, he’d been prodding his ribs and convincing himself he’d reached the later stages of malnutrition on the journey back to St Pancras. Fortunately for him, we’re in the right place to find a feast.
Mr. Flavour staggered onto the scene, wearily dragging his suitcase and far too hangry to risk speaking. I grabbed his hand and whisked him off to one of our true favourite eateries; Dishoom Kings Cross. Our visits to this delightful restaurant have often brought a sense of disappointment. Nothing to do with the spectacular food and service by the way, simply because it’s so damned popular that we can’t always get a table. (Mr. Flavour’s note: – I’ve rocked up with the old “don’t you know who I am” approach on plenty of occasions but even that doesn’t seem to work. That’s how popular they are!). However, the God of hangovers must favour Mr. Flavour on this occasion and we’re ushered to our seats and offered drinks before you could say hair of the dog (Greyhound).
The décor at Dishoom harkens back to the days of the Raj. The humorous writing on the walls warning customers not to try any funny business with the waitress always raises a smile, while the tantalizing aroma of Indian street-food raises our appetites. Perusing the menu always comes with a challenge. Every dish we’ve ever sampled here has been close to divine, so it’s a case of shortlisting from a wide selection of favourites, without requesting enough food to satisfy an Elephant. We opted to order in stages and our statuesque waiter was happy to oblige.
First to arrive were the Okra Fries. Playfully described as “fine lady’s fingers for the fingers”, these nibbles are always on point. Fresh earthy okra adorned with a delicately seasoned coating so crispy it almost defies physics. I remember trying to recreate this dish at home, with our soggy attempt leading us to believe that Dishoom must employ Sorcerers in their kitchens. I could already see the life force returning to Mr. Flavour and had to act fast before he polished off the lot (Mr. Flavour’s note: – Good thing I kept topping up your wine glass to keep you distracted). Sticking with the crispy theme, some deliciously crunchy calamari landed at our table. The hot golden coating served as a fitting recipient for the tasty selection of accompanying chutneys and the slivers of chili breathed fire back into my other half. The curative powers of delicious food are miraculous!
Next up came the House Black Daal, a real Raja of a dish! Should you visit Dishoom, you’ll likely notice that every table in the house will order this item. It really is unmissable. Slow cooked black lentils passionately embraced in a manage-a-trois of fiery spices and decadent cream. Its dark richness is a masterclass in cookery. We guided this heavenly sauce to our palettes with handkerchief-thin roti and were given a reminder of just how fantastic Indian cooking can be. It’s rare for Mr. Flavour to rave about a dish which didn’t start life as a cow but the magic of Dishoom’s house black daal could sway the most hardened carnivore towards a life without meat. (Mr. Flavour’s note: – I did give it some thought…. until the next course came out).
We opted to share a new dish this time and ordered the Awadhi Lamb Biryani. Dishoom delivered yet again! Out came a decorative clay pot, crammed with generous chunks of richly spiced lamb nestled in fluffy fragrant rice. The flavours and style were reminiscent of Balkan cooking and we agreed to add this one to our ever-increasing list of favourites. This was accompanied by a real crowd pleaser: The Chicken Ruby. This “proper curry” presents succulently marinated bites of chicken, lovingly bathed in a delightfully evocative silken Makhani sauce. A tasty fusion of creamy tomato and traditional Indian spices, this dish brings back memories of finding the best curry house on a boozy saunter down Brick Lane in East London. A most satisfying way to fill that last bit of space in our tummies.
I’m unable to comment on the quality of Dishoom’s desserts, due to the fact we’ve always over indulged on spicy savouries by the time the waiter pops the question. We settle our bill head out for a gentle walk home, giving Mr. Flavour some revitalizing fresh air after his heavy weekend. However, it seemed that Indian street food has curative properties. The sparkle had returned to Mr. Flavour’s eyes and as soon as we were out the door, he was leading me off towards the nearest beer garden. Oh well, make hay while the sun shines, as they say. Keep our seats warm Dishoom, we’ll be back again soon.