12 Upper St Martin’s Lane Covent Garden London WC2H 9FB
You’ve got to hand it to Dishoom – they’ve combined a canny design concept with great food and friendly enthusiasm to create something pretty unique. Evoking the classic Persian cafés of old Bombay – all dark wood, sluggish ceiling fans, peeling sepia photographs and old news clippings – this modern Indian restaurant offers vintage style with a twist to evoke a fast-disappearing world. Food concentrates on the Bombay classics, from street snacks to fragrant, meaty grills. Breakfast (served 8am–11am during the week, 10am–1pm at the weekend) is a real treat, perhaps featuring a thick mango lassi and a spicy Bombay omelette, or for something lighter, the brun maska – a hot buttered bun served with chai for dipping. The Bombay breakfast bake, eggs served on a crispy lentil mash, is particularly tasty. For lunch and dinner, the filling black daal and the pau bhaji, a hot toasted bun with mashed curried veg, are surefire hits; you can share small plates or fill your belly with grilled lamb chops or a fine matter paneer (cheese and pea curry). Drinks include Bombay fizzy pop favourites Thums Up and Limca, Indian beers, and an indulgent ‘Naughty Chai’ with chocolate and Bourbon. They also offer a number of Bombay-inspired cocktails including the Bollybellini, the Chaijito and the Chilli Martini, all priced at a modest £6.50. Oh and the name? It’s the sound effect you get in a Bollywood movie when the hero punches the baddie; it’s also slang for style, swagger, and chutzpah, all of which this charming place has in spades.