Oh I love a delicious meal out with good friends; catching up after far too long over tasty treats and sweet cocktails. On Saturday night, we went to Dishoom in Covent Garden - a restaurant that we've been wanting to try for a long time but when we've turned up on spec, the queue has stretched all the way along the front of the restaurant and unfortunately hunger had won and led us elsewhere. This time we made sure to book in advance and, although advance was several weeks beforehand, there was only a 5.15 table for dinner and we snapped it up! Was it worth the wait? My goodness, yes.
Dishoom describes itself as a Bombay café - according to its website, these cafés, also called Irani cafés, are a Bombay tradition dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which were brought to India by Persian immigrants. With their atmosphere of faded elegance, these cafés were part of the fabric of everyday life and used as meeting places by people from all walks of life. The Covent Garden branch was full of all walks of London life on Saturday evening - families, pre-theatre groups, couples and lots of tables full of friends, catching up, laughing and sharing food. A truly wonderful atmosphere.
Indian food is generally quite a good option for coeliacs, with most dishes being naturally gluten free. I told the waitress that I was coeliac and asked what options on the menu were gluten free but she was able to do even better than this and brought me a menu with the gluten free (and gluten free-adaptable) options highlighted.
We decided to choose a mix of smaller (gluten free) items to share, choosing the Bhel (puffed rice, Bombay Mix and nylon sev tossed with fresh pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime, tamarind and mint), Prawn Koliwada (crispy spicy prawns served with a tamarind and date chutney), Gunpowder Potatoes (smoky grilled potatoes broken apart and tossed in butter, seeds and herbs) and the House Black Daal. I then opted for the Mattar Paneer and some basmati rice. My friends chose the chicken ruby curry (also gluten free) and chicken Berry Britannia biryani (not gluten free). They also had garlic naan and roti, which are baked to order and looked very tasty.
It was all so delicious - light, fresh and wonderful flavours, spicy without tears (or hiccups in my case) and all so fabulously moreish. I snapped a few photos on my phone so you can see that the portions aren't as huge as a traditional curry house but they were quite deceiving - we were very full after our selection! I'll have a little less next time so that I can have the Memsahib's Mess as a dessert - a variation on Eton Mess, consisting of fresh cream, crushed meringue and strawberries, with rose syrup and gulkand.
With everything washed down by good conversation and several large glasses of the Bombay Pimm's, the evening passed far too quickly. Coeliac or not, you must visit this restaurant when you're in London...but definitely book to avoid disappointment, or a long wait on a rainy summer evening!