Dishoom arrived in Birmingham with terrible timing, just as lockdown was taking place, the grand launch had to be postponed. In fact, some were questioning whether the restaurant would give up Brum as a bad job and head back to London. Thankfully this was not the case, a tentative soft launch enlightened the Midlands to this renowned family of Bombay Cafés & restaurants dotted around the UK.
The brand started out in London and brings its Bombay breakfast, lunch, afternoon chai, dinner & late-night tipples to the second city (currently for groups of up to 6). The owners behind Dishoom lovingly create bespoke designs to suit each venue, they all come with a little story too! – Birmingham’s can be read here.
We were recently invited to test out the Birmingham enterprise and see what all the fuss was about.
For a Wednesday night, first impressions were, busy. Though, as it is a huge space, social distancing is made easy with tables well spaced out. For what is effectively a corporate office space in the heart of the new Paradise development, the attention to detail and various nooks and crannies, authentic homely Indian decor, dimmed lighting, and 60s Indian vibes.. you really do get the impression it’s an up-market Bombay restaurant in London, during the era of mini skirts and kipper ties (that’s a cup of tea in Brummie, I can say that as I am one ha!).
Our waitress, Serica was friendly, attentive, knowledgeable about the menu and looked after us very well indeed. As our drinks were served – a mild and malty bottle of Kingfisher lager and a delicious glass of white wine – we pored over the menu.
With Dishoom, whatever you order comes out as and when its ready, which in our case, was more or less all at once. This was overwhelming but did create the all important ‘wow factor’.
A Bombay Banquet for Two
To our table, staff delivered Mutton Chaap Korma, Pau Bhaji, Chilli Broccoli Salad, Kachumber, Spicy Lamb Chops, Masala Prawns, House Black Daal, rice and naan.
Pau Bhaji arrived first, with soft buttery lightly crispy buns. This is a mildly spicy bowl of mashed vegetables which tasted salty and was moreish, just delicious and the buns were great to soak up the mash.
Then everything else arrived at once. The Spicy Lamb Chops lie overnight in a special marinade of lime juice, warm dark spices, ginger and garlic, then blackened by the grill and untrimmed for juiciness. These were cooked to perfection, lightly charred with a spicy kick – award winning!
Imagine a coconutty aromatic sweetness, surprising your taste buds, then add to that the juicy Lamb korma falling off the bone – a dish of delights!
My guest ate the Chilli Broccoli Salad which is toasted pistachios and shredded mint leaves with finest, greenest broccoli, fresh red chillies, pumpkin seeds, dates and honey, dressed up in lime and chilli. I was told this tasted sublime, fresh, zingy, a meal in itself and none was wasted. The Kachumber – cucumber, onion and tomato salad was also thoroughly enjoyed.
A big plate of Masala Prawns were slightly charred at the edges, succulent and simple – we picked at these in between other dishes.
Dishoom’s House Black Daal arrived mid way through. It’s a Dishoom signature dish — dark, rich, deeply flavoured and cooked over 24 hours for extra harmony. It is so unique, buttery and a little too rich for me if Id have had it all to myself. I feel it is one for sharing, which we did and even took some home for the next day.
We saved the best for last, Mutton Chaap Korma. Marinated chops of mutton lavished with a arich, nourishing sauce, mopped up with accompanying khamiri roti (A classical Indian korma inspired by visits to Bhendi Bazaar’s Noor Mohammadi).
Imagine a coconutty aromatic sweetness, surprising your taste buds, then add to that the juicy Lamb korma falling off the bone – a dish of delights! Probably best korma I have ever tasted, a 10/10, must try, signature dish.
To accompany all this, we ordered Steamed Basmati Rice and a Chilli Cheese Garlic Naan – the perfect companion to a Bombay inspired banquet!
As we really did want to save some for the next day and share with others, Dishoom are brilliantly set up for takeaway, so the remnants of the Daal and Korma went into large lidded pots ready for a doggy bag.
At this point I should also mention the fab Dishoom cocktails. We sampled a Bombay Mule – favourite spirit of India, Johnnie Walker Black, is lengthened with Dishoom Chai spices, ginger beer and dashes of grapefruit bitters. Fiery, feisty, for independent spirits, and a Hoppy Butter Paanch – Dishoom IPA creamy foam cushions the lips. Then comes the ginger-tempered sweetness of Johnnie Walker with butter syrup base.
To the finale, a Dishoom Chocolate Pudding – melt in the middle served with a scoop of Kashmiri chilli ice cream and a Pistachio Kulfi – think of a very posh Mini-Milk ice lolly.
I picked up the Sound Gallery CD playing in the background, which is a groovy swinging 60s compilation. Imagine The Professionals (60s detectives TV show) driving along Suffolk Queensway in an Austin Mini, screeching up outside, and Martin Shaw (watch this) jogs in and pulls up a seat for a lager and Ruby Murray, then this begins to play..
Will be back. Amazing experience.
Words by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.