Its about that time of year when the city transforms itself into a ticker tape of Top 10s, Best Ofs and Resolutions. It’s just as easy to get lost in the whirlwind of festivities that December brings as it is to drown in its melancholy. Today was an awful day but I was determined not to let one bad day ruin my week. So I headed to the one restaurant that changed the way I eat Indian food in London. Dishoom’s new Winter Chai menu is exactly what I needed.
To say that I am smitten by the Dishoom-wallahs would be a slight understatement. So I asked my college friend Taimur (aka Prince of Palanpur) to act as my North Star for this tasting. Having just opened the latest entrant to London’s posh dining scene – chef Andy Varma’s Chakra in Notting Hill – he wasn’t exactly without vested interests; but Tai proved to be the most honest co-taster.
Bar-wallah Carl Brown, more dashing than usual, sporting a Movember tache took charge of our drinks and left us with very strict instructions on the order in which to drink them. Here goes (all drinks £5.50)!
Suggestive name aside, the Naughty Chocolate Chai is definitely the sexiest drink on the menu. Its dark, syrupy chocolate lusciously wraps itself around harsh Wild Turkey Bourbon until the drink takes your breath away.
Next is Chai Egg Nog. I hate egg nog. Correction, I hateD egg nog. Carl’s take on the traditional recipe is served up as a glass of cosy cuddles. Treacle-like Goslings Rum will lull you into a sigh just as the cinnamon and nutmeg urge you to reach for more. This sensational Chai Egg Nog was the clear favourite of the night. (I can’t wait to go back and try it ice cold!)
Cognac Chai and all its Hennessy makes a comeback. While it kicked serious butt last year, today it paled in comparison to the rest of the list.
The menu also has two Winter Warmers – the Winter Pimm’s with cloudy apple juice; and a Desi Mulled Wine, easy (too easy!) to drink but not particularly desi. They’re good but not as good as the chais. Not satisfied with the quantities of alcohol we were consuming, the Bar-wallah treated us to a Cherry Chocolate Velvet (£9.90). At the risk of sounding like a teenager – OMG! A truly decadent champagne and black cherry cocktail.
There had to be food of course! These are Tai’s uncensored ratings on some of my favourite Dishoom dishes:
- Paneer Tikka (£6.90) – A
- Sheekh Kabab (£7.20) – A
- Black Daal (£4.70) – B
- Rotis & Naans – B
- Chicken Tikka (£6.70) – C
- Lamb Chops (£10.50) – D (sadly, I had to agree with this one. Today the chops were burnt. No, not caramelised as our server Nuno tried to convince us, definitely blistered. They kindly took this off the bill but we weren’t happy about missing out on the chops!)
Tai couldn’t help but comment on Dishoom’s soul – I don’t think he’ll complain about coming back! We agreed to disagree on the rest of his ratings. We talked about college life in Bombay and London life in 2012. About not allowing one burnt dish to ruin our meal. And not letting one heartbreak break us forever.