restaurant/ review

Dishoom, Edinburgh – restaurant review: Refreshingly remixing Indian dining

Dishoom Edinburgh interior.
Dishoom Edinburgh – 5 minutes before being totally full.

Dishoom, Edinburgh review – “Not dissimilar to dining at a decent tapas restaurant our dishes came thick and fast, as opposed to entrees followed by mains. My central dish of chicken ‘Ruby Murray’ – love the wink to Cockney rhyming slang possibly referencing Dishoom’s London origins – was an absolute belter…”

Excitedly getting ready to see one of the groups that provided the soundtrack to my youth – in the form of the always inventive and enduring Pet Shop Boys – play live in Edinburgh the other day got me thinking about cooking and eating. Bear with me on this one! As for me, food and music have a lot in common. My tastes are really quite broad and varied with regard to both – I’m not a huge fan of ‘death metal’ however, either as a musical genre or a cuisine.  I’m always looking out for something new and interesting in terms of a dish, tune, restaurant or artist. But I also regularly hanker after the familiar, be it in terms of food or music, although it’s always refreshing to encounter an updated take on an old favourite from my younger days.

Vada pau Dishoom Edinburgh.
Vada Pau – spicy chip butty, anyone?

How appropriate then that prior to trotting off to see the PSBs lift the roof on the Edinburgh Playhouse, JML, our friend Tina, and I chose to dine at a relatively new kid on the city’s culinary block in the form of Dishoom.  Appropriate, because as someone born and raised in the environs of Birmingham, Indian – or more accurately, Punjabi, Pakistani and Bangladeshi – cuisine was something my younger self was delighted to be constantly familiar with. Yet, like a stunning remix of a favourite tune, Dishoom brings a new perspective on the food of the subcontinent, a world away from the Balti houses of my formative years.

Apparently taking its name from a Hindi term referring to the noise made by a ricocheting bullet or landing punch in Bollywood action films – think “kerpow” in the original 60s Batman TV series – Dishoom is majorly inspired by Bombay’s (Mumbai’s) Irani cafés.  These were opened by Zoroastrian devotees emigrating from Persia (modern day Iran) from 19th Century onwards.  Now dwindling in number, such venues are about all-day dining, where the well-to-do and those not quite so financially fortunate all rub shoulders together, and food that draws influence from the middle-east and across India arrives fast and fulsome.
Chilli cheese toast - Dishoom, Edinburgh.
Chilli cheese toast – sort of Indian rarebit.

The Edinburgh branch of Dishoom(there are already four, highly regarded, sister venues in central and east London) threw open its doors in the redeveloped southern edge of St Andrew’s Square at the end of 2016, and has already had folk, quite literally, queuing out the door as reservations are only taken for parties of six or more. The venue is spread over three floors of a stylish, Victorian former office building, and consists of a buzzing, speakeasy-esque cocktail bar and dining area in the basement, a modest reception area and truly enormous open kitchen at ground level, with stairs to rival Jacob’s Ladder leading to the colonial-inspired main dining area above.  Taken in the round, it exhibits all the credentials of a well put together and welcoming dining and supping venue.

Also equally welcoming are Dishoom’s servers, who are only too happy to talk the unfamiliar through the pretty extensive menu. Depending on the time of day, this focuses on: breakfast dishes such as tomato, onion, chilli and coriander “Bombay” omelette with “Fire Toast”, or maybe a bacon or sausage naan roll; small plates or salads – such as the enticing paneer and mango – ideal for lunch or dinner, if two or three plates are combined; and larger grilled dishes and biryanis for those who crave something more substantial. Add to this an inviting range of rice, Southern-Asian breads, and vegetable sides and there is certainly something to cater for all tastes, including those with particular dietary requirements – our friend Tina was particularly grateful that there is a dedicated menu that identifies everything that is gluten free.
To be honest, so inviting is Dishoom’s menu I was a wee bit concerned we might have over-ordered for a pre-concert early dinner, with each of us going for a more substantial dish but agreeing to share a plethora small plates between us. This is a rare occurrence for JML, a chap for whom attempts at “sharing” platters usually results in a fork in the back of one’s hand.
Chicken Ruby Murray - Dishoom, Edinburgh.
Chicken Ruby Murray and kachumber.

Not dissimilar to dining at a decent tapas restaurant our dishes came thick and fast, as opposed to entrees followed by mains. My central dish of chicken “Ruby Murray” – love the wink to Cockney rhyming slang possibly referencing Dishoom’s London origins – was an absolute belter; beautifully cooked poultry in an earthily-spiced sauce that also encapsulated a lovely chilli warmth and rich makhani buttery-ness . Tina’s chicken tikka was atypical in the best possible way, thanks to a marinade based on sweet vinegar, as opposed to yoghurt, and which also encompassed ginger, garlic, turmeric and chilli to produce a superb balance of flavours.  JML’s Awadhi lamb biryani was sumptuously aromatic perfectly matching unctuous slow cooked lamb and spice infused rice.  Amongst the best he has tasted, apparently.

If larger dishes were towards the “superb” end of catering, the plates we decided to share were also really quite impressive. I’ve never really thought of cheese on toast or a chip butty as being particularly typical of Indian food.  Well think again food blog boy, as chilli cheese toast provided a splendid, spiced hit of fromage on a crisp slice of bloomer, whilst “vada pau” – sautéed potato enhanced by the addition of authentic “Ghati” masala spice mix and sandwiched on a buttered pau bun was as irresistible as an offering from a really great chippie, but with even more flavoursome whistles and bells.  Masala prawns were delightful in their simplicity, subtly spiced and char grilled to ensure maximum smoky succulence.  Dishoomslaw provided a tasty eastern slant on this staple accompaniment with crisp, sliced cabbage tossed in a mild, yet punchy, curried mayonnaise and then bejewelled with tangy-sweet pomegranate seeds. 
Dishoom Slaw and masala prawns - Dishoom, Edinburgh.
Dishoom slaw & masala prawns.

In an effort to boost our five a day, ‘a bowl of greens’ – spinach, sugar snaps and broccoli, cooked to point and tumbled in lime juice, chilli and a hint of – I think – cumin made being healthy, well tasty.  As did the deceptively straightforward kachumber – a simply delicious salad of sweet red onion, cool cucumber and ripe tomato, again enhanced with lime and subtle spice.  I know I mention “spice” a lot in this review, and I’m not merely referring to chilli.  Each dish was a bit like opening presents at Christmas – ooh, a trace of cumin and coriander there; ah, cardamom and a hint of methi there.  Combined with really good ingredients, I just wanted to go from bowl, to plate to bowl.  And I haven’t even mentioned the smashing glasses of Dishoom IPA and rich, fruity Rioja that we quaffed with our feast.

To be quite frank, it’s hard to find fault with the Dishoom experience. The food is fresh, flavoursome and well prepared, the service is top notch without being imposing, the surroundings akin to an Edwardian Bombay gentleman’s club where you are still welcomed even if sporting jeans and trainers.  A bit like seeing a much-loved band whose dazzling show makes you view the familiar in a totally new light, Dishoom is Indian food, but not as you know it. “Kerpow” indeed!

Food – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Ambience – expect a buzzing restaurant/bar with a welcoming and relaxed vibe.

Dishoom Edinburgh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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  • Reply
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    March 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I've heard about The Dishroom, but I've never been. I shall have to make the effort next time I'm through.

  • Reply
    Chris Berry
    March 5, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I would definitely recommend it Jacqueline – and as it's Indian cuisine there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu too.

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