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Journal entry

Introducing Dishoom Edinburgh

In which Patrick Geddes finds inspiration in Irani cafés

BOMBAY, MARCH 1923. Botanist, ecologist, and all-round man of the people Patrick Geddes reclines on a long-armed rattan chair. An unruly mop of hair sits atop his wide forehead, which is etched with many lines. We find him in the J.N. Petit reading room, in that second of clean consciousness that comes with waking. The muffled din of the street and the gentle whir of ceiling fans fill the quiet room.

He blinks as he remembers his surroundings. He observes the marble-topped tables lined with visitors as varied as the dusty books housed there: students, curious readers, elderly men poring over periodicals in English, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati, while a handful of others are quietly nodding off. Everyday people all sitting, working and sleeping, cheek by jowl.

And amongst them, of course, sits Geddes, a big-hearted Scot of excitable character who brims with visionary ideas. Bombay has been his home since 1917 when he travelled to India at the behest of Lord Pentland, Governor of Madras. A pioneer of town planning (successful and prolific in equal measure), he brought plenteous wisdom to India from his years reforming Edinburgh’s Old Town.

His early days in Bombay were spent humbly, wandering the streets, understanding the workings of this city and her folk. “By living we learn”, he would say to his students from the University of Bombay. And so he would walk, observe, ask, listen – a cheerful nomadic flâneur buoyed by curiosity.

All who met him were enthused by the energy of this prodigious man. And yet, since the double loss of his wife and son in 1917 (his dearest Anna passed away never knowing that her boy was gone, killed on the Western Front), that energy is somewhat depleted, a flame flickering a little from sorrow. He finds quiet repose in the dusty tranquillity of his beloved reading rooms, and – though his ideas and enthusiasms were not just of his youth – he often comes here to sit awhile, an old love letter from his wife in hand. He smiles when he thinks of her, in moments of bitter-sweet reverie.

Geddes rubs his face and climbs out of the chair – involuntarily grunting as he rises. His frayed brown suit is too heavy in the close afternoon heat. Stiffly, he walks across the parquet floor and through the threshold into the hubbub of the city.

Looking about, he admires the special character of Bombay, this crowded, many-cultured, generally implausible city: hawkers peddling their wares, men cleaning ears, briefcases swinging, cows roaming. The sights and sounds are far removed from his old dwellings in Edinburgh, but the pungent smell takes him back to 1886 when he and Anna first moved to the crumbling Old Town, with its absence of effective plumbing.

Narrowly, he dodges the flick of a street sweeper’s broom. On another day, he may well have paused, enquired as to the fellow’s health, and wished him well; but not today, for he has an appointment to keep.

He is meeting his friend Khambatta in a favourite place: Kyani & Co., a so-called ‘Irani’ café opened by some of the Zoroastrian immigrants who had been arriving in Bombay since the turn of the century. On fieldwork trips with his students, Geddes would sit for hours in these delightful establishments, discussing what they saw there: families, students, professionals, elderly men – all sitting side by side – sharing the experience of daily living. Always conscientious in his observations, he notes that these cafés truly seemed to bring people together, regardless of caste,  faith or social standing.

On seeing his friend – a jovial Parsi with a remarkable talent for theatre – Geddes reflects for a moment. How welcome and refreshing a space like this would be in Edinburgh… A place which could break down the boundaries between classes and provide common ground, a truly shared space. His musings did not go unnoticed by his friend Khambatta, who spotted the familiar twinkle in Geddes’ eye – a plan was afoot, and he leant in to listen.

~~~

Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a botanist, ecologist, sociologist and town planner. Anti-imperialist in outlook and humanist in approach, he helped develop cities around the world, with much time spent in Edinburgh and Bombay.

Geddes sought to better society by improving civic facilities and creating environments where ‘people of all walks of life had common interests and shared the experience of daily living’. In Edinburgh Geddes dedicated himself to improving conditions in the run-down, impoverished Old Town, which owes him much of its present-day charm.

His work in Edinburgh led to an invitation to travel to India to advise on planning issues. He made the voyage to Bombay in 1915 and went on to produce plans that would improve living conditions in 50 of India’s cities. Geddes supported India’s quest to gain independence from the British. He challenged the prevailing orthodoxy ‘that a city like Bombay must depend on its millionaires’ and argued against the colonial authorities. He had a very broad and sympathetic outlook on life, and wherever he worked, he endeavoured to establish cultural brotherhoods irrespective of caste, class or colour.

Geddes was appointed as Bombay University’s first professor of Sociology and Civics in 1919. He has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci and praised by Einstein for his innovative thinking. At Dishoom Edinburgh, we pay tribute to Geddes’ visionary thinking and humanist ideals.

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If you liked this tale, perhaps you might enjoy reading the Dishoom King’s Cross story and watching how it came to life in 2014.

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UPDATED MONDAY 5TH DECEMBER: Dishoom Edinburgh and The Permit Room bar are officially open from 6pm on Monday 5th December.


Dishoom Edinburgh will officially open on 5th December 2016 and we’d love to invite you all to help us prepare for the opening by attending our soft launch.

The soft launch will run from 6pm on Friday 25th November until 11pm on Sunday 4th December. You can all enjoy 50% off your food and drinks* as thanks for helping out with this final stage of our training.

There are no bookings for soft launch – you may drop in whenever you like. (In the evenings there might be a wait for a table.)

Opening hours for the soft launch

Dining room & kitchen

  • Friday 25th November: 6pm–midnight
  • Saturday 26th: 9am–midnight
  • Sunday 27th: 9am–11pm
  • Monday 28th: 8am–11pm
  • Tuesday 29th: 8am–11pm
  • Wednesday 30th: 8am–11pm
  • Thursday 1st December: 8am–midnight
  • Friday 2nd: 8am–midnight
  • Saturday 3rd: 9am–midnight
  • Sunday 4th: 9am–11pm

Breakfast is served until 11.45am each day. The all-day menu is served from 12pm onwards.

The Permit Room bar

  • Friday 25th November: 6pm–3am
  • Then 5pm–3am every day

*Discount applies to all food and drinks in the upstairs dining room.

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If you’d like to hear more about our news and opening dates, do drop us a line to hello@dishoom.com.

Or if you’re a big-hearted person looking for a first-class career in hospitality, email edinburghteam@dishoom.com and we’ll get straight back to you.

 

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Anna F

Spent the better part of my sunny California morning enjoying Dishoom's fantastic blogs all the way since 2011 (and strangely, craving a Naughty Chai with my Akoori.) Pray tell, who is the writer of this zany blog that makes me miss my Bombay and Broom-Pav more than ever? I would love to read more.. is there 'Dishoom' anthology?

Dr Richa mathur

So excited that now there will be a decent Indian restaurant in Edinburgh!

Gillian Cameron

Cant wait! Finally I dont have to take a plane to get my black daal fix!

Ginny

Dearest Anna, your words are beyond kind. Thank you so much for taking the time to read our rather barmy blog posts! Do get in touch when you are in London, we'd love to meet you :-)

Ginny

Hi there, looking forward to meeting you when we open! I'll add you to our locals list so you'll be the first to hear our opening news and events :-)

Ginny

Oh Gillian, no planes necessary anymore! I'll pop you on our locals list so you'll hear about our opening dates and plan :-)

Hannah

When is it going to open? I miss the London one since we moved up!

Ginny

Hey Hannah, date isn't firmed up just yet. But we'll add you to our locals list and let you know all our openings dates and events :-)

Stuart

Oh my... Dishoom is a "must stop" place when I am in the 'smoke, and now you're bringing it to the 'reekie! Ludicrously excited, can't wait!

Ash

Dishoom is my favourite in London and now you've come here. Awesome. I shall be an evangelical supporter x

Will Fung

Hi, Can't wait till you guys open! Do you have a opening date yet?

Deborah Kohn

Keep us posted! Yay!

Charlotte M

As a Londoner moved north I'm literally salivating with excitement that I'll now be able to get all my favorite Dishoom food closer than 400 hundred miles away!!

Arlene

Great story and I'm looking forward to the full Dishhoom experience at the Edinburgh restaurant.

Kirsty Le Grice

Really love dishoom in London so am delighted you're making the move to Edinburgh. Please add me to the mailing list!

Sergio Estevao

Super excited to see Dishoom coming to Edinburgh! It was my favourite restaurant back in London! Please keep me updated on the opening date! Cheers, Sergio

G

So excited for the opening! Literally can't come soon enough... could you add me to the mailing list?

Arindam Dutta

Hi! I am looking forward to Dishoom opening up in Edinburgh... Do keep us posted... All the best!!

B

Can't wait for the opening! Not long now!

Leo

Hi Guys, I have always stayed in Edinburgh and at various opportunities visited Dishoom London with my friends. Cant wait to see Dishoom opening in Edinburgh to be one of their regulars with friends and colleagues. pl keep me posted ,

Sharad Bhansali

Fantastic news that you are opening in Edinburgh. Pl keep me posted about the opening date.

Craig Douglas

Can't wait to have breakfast, the menu looks amazing!

Zoe Walker

We love Dishoom in London and are very excited you are opening in Edinburgh- can't wait to try the new place.

Danielle

Cant wait for your Edinburgh opening! Please add me to your mailing list!

Linda

Oh how lovely! Wonderful and looking forward to popping along for dinner!

Denise Needham

menu looks so tasty, lots of things I haven't tried before. Looking forward to trying it out and it's close enough to my birthday that I can really goto town on the food (and a couple of glasses of something special) :-)

Mari

Can you notify us of your opening date and address in Edinburgh please. Thank you.

Hayley

Please can you add us to the locals list? Can children come for the soft launch week?

Steve

Experienced the Dishoom breakfast in London, it was beyond belief! Great news about Edinburgh location, a bit closer to where I live than London. Now if you could open a Dishoom in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.......

Pete Jackson

Hello Welcome to Edinburgh Are you doing dry opening tonight Sunday ?

Hannah

Dishoom Shoreditch used to be my local, literally SO happy you are opening up here. Cannot wait to have chicken ruby back in my life on Friday...

Grant gwynne

Hey there! We're really interested in coming to the launch week this week. Do you have a menu available by any chance?

Gill

Are you taking bookings during your soft launch? I would like to book a table for 4 people on the evening of Saturday 26th November if possible? x

Ginny

Hi Grant, we're very excited to have you along :-) Please find our menus here www.dishoom.com/food-drink/, and should you have any questions then don't hesitate to drop us a line to helloedinburgh@dshoom.com.

Ginny

Hey Gill, we aren't taking bookings during soft launch, but do please come along and we shall get you seated as soon as possible. Best wishes :-)

janis neil

Looking forward to an authentic eating experience in Edinburgh. please put me on your contact list for your opening. Many Thanks janis

Shahid Raza

So happy that you are in Edinburgh. Cant wait to pop in again and again...

Ramya

Hi, Let me know when the restaurant opening and whether we need to pre- booked the table for opening

Ginny

Hi, Soft launch starts from 6pm on Friday 25th November until 11pm on Sunday 4th December and I am afraid we won't be taking bookings until 4th January. But do please come along and we shall get you seated as quickly as possible. Or you can enjoy a pre-dinner tipple in The Permit Room bar :-) Look forward to seeing you soon.

sandra

HI, we are coming to see the street of lights on Sunday 27th at 8pm. Plan to be coming to you at about 9 to 9.30. I know you are not taking bookings but a friend who dined with you last weekend has recommended you so just wondering if you will still be open then and likely to have seats? I need to eat gluten free and usually Indian food is perfect for that, but wanted to check you will have some delightful food for me :) Many thanks

Bryan brown

Can you book a table for tomorrow night ? If so could I book 1 for 2 people at 8pm

Ginny

Hey Sandra, We shall indeed be open then and we do have a great selection of food for people intolerant to gluten - We are very much looking forward to welcoming you :-)

Ginny

Hi Bryan, we are not taking bookings during our soft launch or before January 4th. You're very welcome to come along and walk-in and we shall get you seated as soon as possible. Best wishes,

Barbara Bolton

Hi there could I book a table for Tuesday evening at 7pm for 5 people?

Pat

SO utterly thrilled that Dishoom will be coming to Edinburgh! I've spent so much time listening to Dishoom's amazing playlists on Spotify and enjoying the wonderfully charming blog posts. Dishoom should write a book with music -- the website is already such a wonderful multi-media project! This takes me back to my childhood in Bombay. I'm excited to try out the new restaurant x

Ginny

Hi Barbara, we aren't taking bookings during soft launch, and until 4th January. But you are more than welcome to come along as a walk-in. Look forward to seeing you :-)

Nadeem anwar

Was curious to know is any of the meats halal and also can you email me menu . Many thanks

Prit Singh

Awesome food Feels like the London Dishoom and that will be the USP Edinburgh has been lacking this kind of joint for ages God bless

Ginny

Hi Nadeem, all our lamb and chicken are indeed halal and please find a copy of our main menu, here for you :-) http://www.dishoom.com/food-drink/ - best wishes.

Ibrahim

I'd like to book a table for 3 for Wednesday 30th November please. For 8:30pm. Please give me best table available. Thanks

Ginny

Hi Ibrahim, huge apologies, but we aren't taking bookings during our soft launch period and until 4th January. But do please come along and we shall get you seated as quickly as possible. Best wishes, Ginny

Lesley Dale

I've been trying to make a reservation in the Edinburgh restaurant on 27 December at 14:00 for 4 people but unfortunately Edinburgh does not appear on the drop down list? Can I please make that reservation?

Ginny

Hi Lesly, humble apologies but we won't be taking reservations for Dishoom Edinburgh until 4th January. But do please come along and we shall get you seated as quicky as possible. Best wishes, Ginny

Liz Coutts

Hi looking for gift vouchers for Christmas please

Mehwish

HI Just wanted to confirm if dishoom is halal?

Maryam

Hi I just wanted to find out if the meat served is halal

Ginny

Hi Liz, if you email helloedinburgh@dishoom.com we will be able to help :-) Best wishes

Ginny

Hi there, all meat served on our all day menu is indeed halal - if you email helloedinburgh@dishoom.com I can share more information with you :-)

Ginny

Hi Maryam, all our meat on the all day menu is indeed halal and I am very happy to share more information with you. Please get in touch at helloedinburgh@dishoom.com and we shall gladly help.

Su-a Lee

Is the Permit Room only a bar, or might there be late night snacks available?

Ginny

Hi there, there is no food available in the Permit Room I am afraid, though we do have some potato crisps on the bar menu :-)

Katie Church

Amazing food and equally amazing staff. Would definitely recommend.

Karen N

Thank you for making our wedding anniversary so special, exceptional food and great service.

Ann S

Great food and great atmosphere. Disappointed that you can't book in person and that bookings are managed in London.

Louise Mew

I would like to get some vouchers for your restaurant. I have been in touch previously about this but had problems with my emails. Pleased re advise. Thank you.

Ginny

Hi Louise, sorry for the trouble. Drop us an email to hello@dishoom.com and we shall be able to help :-)