There are some places I visit, where a review from me can help a restaurant gain new customers. Dishoom is a place where a review from me will have ZERO effect on their success; this place has been one of the most popular restaurants in London for nearly ten years. Every time I’ve been I’ve had a good experience. It’s been a good 3 years since my last visit so I decided to make a trip to the newly renovated restaurant in Covent Garden
First things first, if you go after 6pm with less than 4 people you need to queue up (average wait is 30mins) only groups over 4 can make a reservation.
I arrived for my 7 pm booking, (I had a booking as this was a PR/Press Invitation) I arrived 20mins late (I called ahead and told them I was running late) we were shown to our table within a few mins. There are 2 eating areas, a spacious bright upstairs and a low lit tightly packed downstairs. Unfortunately for me, I was seated downstairs, not great for taking pictures as it’s too dark, but I did bring my annoying blogger light. At first, I was given a small table for 2, but I requested a larger table as I knew there wouldn’t be enough space for the amount of food I usually order.
The decor has a very unique ambience that emulates an aesthetic from Colonial Indian times. Downstairs was very dark and the table I was seated at was too tight to others, I kept having to tuck in my chair really close to the table to allow people to squeeze past behind me.
When I visit a restaurant to review I tend to order a range of items and have a taste of each and take home any leftovers, I was told that they didn’t have any lids so takeaway might be an issue. Nevertheless, since I knew I wouldn’t be back here again I wanted to try a range of dishes. So let’s go with the food review.
Aflatoons colada £5.50
Pineapple and coconut-cream, a little coriander, chai syrup, and lime juice. Garnished with coconut flakes.
This was more of an ice slushy, I had to wait 15mins for the ice to melt before I could drink this. Once it melted i liked it.
Watermelon sharbat £3.90
Watermelon is muddled with spearmint and lime, then thrown over cubes of ice.
Really liked the sharp flavours of this one
For starters we got
House chaat £6.20
Warm-cold, sweet-tangy, moreish. Golden fried sweet potato covered with cool yoghurt, pomegranate, beetroot, radish and carrot. Tamarind drizzle and green chutney.
This was my favourite dish of the evening, the textures and flavours really worked well together. I have never seen a chaat with carrots, beetroot and radish, but the contrast in temperatures with the hot sweet potatoes and cold salad with sweet tamarind made a dish that worked in complete harmony. Recommended! 9/10
Okra fries £4.90
Light, simple crispy salted battered Okra that tasted great. The portion could have been a bit bigger. 8/10
Lamb samosa £5.90
Pricey for 3 samosas, these were good but nothing different to what mum can make. She wouldn’t approve of the price, but the taste was good. 7/10
Panner roll £7.90
Grilled paneer tucked inside a crisped roll with onion, peppers and green leaves.
My 2nd favourite item was this Panner wrap, loads of great flavours here from different ingredients inside the roll. Really tasty from the first bite to the last. 9/10
Now on to the mains and the food takes a really big drop.
Spicy lamb chops £8.90
Two chops lie overnight in a special marinade of lime juice, warm dark spices, ginger and garlic. Untrimmed, for juiciness, and blackened by the grill
The chops from Dishoom have a special place in my heart, back in 2013 I had Dishoom for the first time and recall the 3 chops I ordered for £18. A lot for me back then and still is now. I still remember the taste and memory of eating these chops today. They were great. So I was expecting something similar.
But. I was truly disappointed.
I love my lamb chops, the menu says 2 but my eyes widened when I saw 3 on my plate. I was giddy inside. But that excitement was short-lived after the first bite.
These chops were tough, chewy and overcooked. There’s a layer of fat that I love on chops that most typical Indian/Pakistani/Bengali restaurants remove or trim, but they were left on here which is great. However, they weren’t cooked correctly, the fat had not been rendered down and the sinew (that’s the layer of tissue under the fat) was tough and chewy, with the right skill and cooking methods the sinew can turn soft and become fine to eat. But these chops were just awful and it was painful for me to leave them piled up unwanted. I’ve never wasted chops in my life..
Sadly the food waste continued with some more poor cooking. 4/10
Chefs special masala fish £17.50
Two fillets of sea bream marinated in Tila-foi’s masala with ginger-garlic, black pepper, lime juice, carrom seeds and red chilli. Griddled within a banana leaf and served to share. Eat with Coconut yoghurt.
The menu description made this dish sound really exciting, but this dish wasn’t great. While the fish was cooked fine, the masala used to coat the fish was not balanced correctly, there was an overpowering taste of raw spices and it just didn’t work and was not pleasant to eat.
I really tried to eat more of the fish, even removing as much of the spice mix off the flesh, but the taste was too strong and overpowering and not nice to eat. The yoghurt that came with the dish was too sweet and could pass as a dessert It had that much sugar in it.
Gunpowder potatoes £6.90
New potatoes are smoky-grilled, broken apart, tossed with butter, crushed aromatic seeds and green herbs.
I had not had these before and I was looking forward to this, but I took one bite and no, I didn’t like this. It tasted like a food experiment gone wrong, where someone just grabbed a handful of random spice seeds and threw them on some potatoes. There was no balance and again, the flavours just didn’t work. 3/10
Masala prawns £12.90
Each one charred slightly at the edges, succulent and simple, nothing to bamboozle.
The menu says it is slightly charred at the edges, but what I got were some prawns that had been blacked beyond anything I’ve seen. I had to peel off the charred bitter blacked shells but it meant the prawns were dry as they were overcooked. 4.5/10
Chicken Biryani £12.90
A pot of chicken, ginger, garlic, mint, coriander and rice cooked together in the Kacchi style.
I remember the lamb biryani from Dishoom in Kings Cross being an absolute hit, that’s only available there, here it’s a chicken Biryani that I’ve had before and wanted to try again. It is made with cranberries – hard to describe this one, the rice is cooked well and the chicken tasted good but there weren’t enough layers in taste or depth of flavour for me. Very middle of the road
Mutton pepper fry £14.90
Finest mutton marinated in red chilli, ginger and garlic, then cooked with black peppercorns and whole spices.
The cooking of the mutton was excellent, very soft and tender meat, however, I wasn’t too keen on some of the flavours, there was a strong overpowering taste that I wasn’t able to identify 5/10
Garlic naan £3.70
Cheese naan £4.20
The service was very organised and structured. We were shown to our table and greeted by happy friendly staff on the way – I wasn’t happy with the table downstairs as mentioned before, not great for taking pics/vids, I didn’t want to be annoying and interrupt other dinners and use my bright light for pics and videos so I used it as little as I could.
One good thing was the service – I told my waiter (who didn’t know I was here by invitation from Dishoom) about the dishes I didn’t like, 3 main ones were Lamb chops, Masala Fish and the Gunpower Potatoes, he then told his line manager who came to speak to us and said thank you for the feedback and they were glad that I was honest and they will address it and look into what happened – The manager again didn’t know it was a complimentary/review meal said he would remove the 3 dishes I didn’t like from the bill – that’s very good service and a lesson to always give feedback when you are at the restaurant not after you have left.
Overall, I was felt disappointed with the experience here. Out of the 10 main food items, I only would recommend and order 3 again. But as I said at the start, a negative review from me will not have any effect on this place – its so popular and good spot to go, but the majority of the food I had was not up to the standards that I have come to expect from a powerhouse like Dishoom.
PR/Press Invite, my meal was complimentary