Cold weather in the UK hasn’t so much crept up on us as it has sprinted towards us out of the blue screaming IT’S COLD IT’S COLD HOLY SHIT WHY HAVEN’T YOU GOT THE HEATING ON ALREADY and my breakfast needs have shifted accordingly; the need for warmth, comfort and excessive carbohydrates is paramount, and tea and hot chocolate begin featuring alongside coffee.
Dishoom, purportedly styled on the Bombay cafes of the 1960s, takes me away from my standard breakfast choices that tend to be either English or, being in London, Antipodean. I’ve known about the place for months but their menu seems tailor-made for English cold weather tastes and FINALLY we can get this crazy heat behind us and get back to wearing jumpers and drinking vats of sweet, milky tea. I can’t testify to the authenticity of the menu — for all I know it’s the equivalent of ‘Chinese’ restaurants in the UK that serve up deep-fried battered chicken balls with sweet and sour slime sourced from the set of Ghostbusters II. God, that’s the best, isn’t it? Delicious, inauthentic, brown fried food with sugary, luminescent slime; it’s what’s for dinner.
Anyway, my point is that while everything on Dishoom’s breakfast menu has an Indian twist, it’s all more of an accent on traditional English dishes than anything else; there’s nothing here that’s going to burn your tongue or give you palpitations. Egg, sausage and bacon naan rolls see fried eggs, Cumberland sausage or smokey, charred bacon served inside a fresh naan along with tomato chilli jam, cream cheese and herbs. Vaguely spicy, generally comforting and not so filling that I couldn’t be tempted by something else on the menu as a starter or chaser — the bun maska, a toasted bread roll with a slice of cold butter in, served with a cup of chai for dipping, is great for filling a small gap. Yes, a slice. What? You’re not even my real mum.
The akuri is worth a mention; scrambled eggs with ginger, coriander, a bit of chilli, minced tomatoes and black pepper, served on toast with tomatoes grilled and served still on the vine, which is a bit of an affectation and actually kind of a nuisance to detach the tomatoes from the vine without using your fingers. It’s not like you eat the vine, after all. Hipster tomatoes aside, the akuri is lovely, and different enough from standard scrambled eggs to be notable.
I’ll mention the Full Bombay — Dishoom’s version of the Full English — just for completeness. Akuri, bacon, sausage, toast, tomatoes. The portion size isn’t overwhelming — it wouldn’t last five minutes against the Hawksmoor Full English in a fight — but it’s just about satisfying and probably a good choice for someone who wants to try a bit of everything.
In a rare moment of experimental madness I even gave the granola a try: oats, seeds, cashews, almonds, pistachios, cinnamon, butter and honey with fresh fruit and vanilla yoghurt. Sounded nice, but the portion size was so insultingly small I even forlornly prised up the blob of yoghurt with my spoon to see if there was more granola underneath. Fine, it all tasted great, but if you’re serving granola with a teaspoon and not a ladle then really you have nothing to say to me. Fortunately an emergency follow-up order of the “FIRE TOAST” — i.e., some toast — filled the granola gap, but it was touch and go for a while.
Finally, drinks. As mentioned in the prologue, I’m looking for tea and chocolate as much as I am coffee now, and the house chai, the dark chocolate chai and the monsooned Malabar coffee all hit the required sweet or smokey needs. Barring any sudden, unwelcome heatwaves, I expect I’ll be making Dishoom a regular haunt.