I love going to new restaurants and trying new things, but when you’ve had your eye on a place for a while there can be a certain degree of apprehension when you finally get to visit. Will you like the food? Will it be as good as the reviews suggest? Will your dining companion(s) like it? This was how I felt when I finally got to visit Dishoom in Edinburgh recently. I’d eyed the London branches of Dishoom on past visits, but it never quite fell into place so when they opened a branch much closer to home it seemed like fate. A trip to the capital’s Festival Theatre seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out somewhere new, and Dishoom is only a 15-20 minute walk away.
Dishoom don’t take bookings for groups less than 6 at dinner time, however there were only two of us and it was early (5:15pm) on a Wednesday evening when we arrived so we didn’t have to wait. It should be noted that, by the time we left at around half past 6 it was definitely getting busy and people were being shown to the bar to wait for a table. However, if you’re prepared to wait then I thoroughly recommend you do – it’ll be worth it, I promise!
After being seated at our table, our waiter came over to explain the menu. Everything is built for sharing and divided into categories including Small Plates, Grills and Biryani. The waiter recommended three dishes each (six to share) and suggested that those dishes be made up of two small plates, two larger dishes (from the Grills, Biryani or Ruby Murray sections of the menu) and two sides, although you are of course at liberty to order whatever combination you like.
Starting in the small plates section, I immediately chose the first dish – Dishoom Calamari. I firmly believe that calamari is a great measure of a restaurant – the squid has to be perfectly cooked with a fresh, crispy coating. This squid definitely delivered; impeccably cooked squid was coated in a crunchy coating and tossed with Dishoom drizzle. What was in this drizzle I have no idea – all I know is that it was subtly sweet and very tasty. We also ordered the Prawn Koliwada from this section of the menu. Billed as “a bowl of delicate, crispy morsels with tamarind and date chutney” these were another success. The prawns were a good size – nice meaty portions coated in a light, melt-in-the-mouth batter. There was a definite spicy kick to the prawns, accentuated by the accompanying chutney. Neither mum nor I were too keen on the chutney itself, but the prawns were fabulous even when eaten alone.
The menu only comprises two sauced curries, one chicken and one paneer. Not being huge fans of paneer, we decided to order the Chicken Ruby. The huge chunks of tender chicken were served in a makhani sauce and boy, what a sauce it was. Smooth, rich and silky with a hint of spice, it was a superbly robust sauce which made for a fabulous curry. I could easily have eaten a large portion of this dish itself, although then I would have missed out on all the other great choices!
As lovers of lamb, we couldn’t really resist ordering one of the relevant dishes from the grills section. The Spicy Lamb Chops sounded right up our street and so they were our other large plate. Cooked in a marinade of lime juice, spices, ginger and garlic, the chops were crispy and caramelised on the outside, but rich and juicy on the inside. Lamb chops was never going to be the most attractive thing to eat, but it was definitely worth it to try the succulent meat.
In an attempt to provide some contrast to all the fiery foods we had ordered, we plumped for a side of Dishoom Slaw. Cucumber, onion, tomato and cabbage was mixed up with creamy mayonnaise and topped with fruity pomegranate seeds. A nice coleslaw made a little different by the addition of the sweet pomegranate jewels, this was a great accompaniment to our other choices. The mayonnaise had the perfect cooling effect, while the crunch from the vegetables contrasted the soft roti that we had also ordered. At first we ordered just one Roomali Roti, unsure of how big they would be, however our waiter recommended we order two and this was another good call. The roti went well with so many different elements of the meal, from the complimentary chutney’s (one spicy, one mint and one sweet which turned out to be the Tamarind and Date Chutney) to the slaw to the curry, and none went to waste.
In fact, we left nothing on the table other than some chutney and the lamb bones (well, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere)! Stuffed to the brim after all that deliciousness there was no way we could manage dessert – despite how good they sounded. You’ll have guessed by now that I loved Dishoom, and I sincerely hope that I’ll be back soon.