When you’ve imagined something for so long, it’s slightly surprising to see it become reality. A passing thought turns into an idea, which turns into a conversation. The conversation turns into a checklist of old cafés, repeat trips to Bademiya, walks on Chowpatty beach. Bombay inspires cooking, words, sketches.
And before you know it, you’re sitting on a bentwood chair at a marble table, looking at sepia portraits of your family, sipping chai and eating a Bombay omelette. In the middle of London.
You can see a replica of that clock we all loved from Victoria Terminus. The Thums Up has just been delivered and is being put on a shelf at the bar. The Rules of the Café sign is up. The fans are rotating slowly. The exposed wiring is a tad scruffy. Passers-by are peering through the windows wondering what has just turned up and made itself comfortable on St. Martin’s Lane in that gap between Jamie’s Italian and Stringfellows.
We’re perched here in the one-day space between our last dry run yesterday and our soft opening tomorrow. It’s an odd lull. Dry runs are not easy. To bring everything together, to make it work seamlessly, to give customers a great experience. All of these things require a lot of sweat and a lot of resourcefulness from a lot of people. It’s the culmination of years of work.
And after all that effort, who knows what tomorrow will bring. Will people buy the Thums Up? Will they love the biryanis as much as we do? Will they come in for our Bombay breakfasts? Will our chai always be tasty? Does London even need a Bombay Café?
One thing is for sure. It’s been truly a team effort. We have so many great people here, with so much spirit and style (so much dishoom!) The team that brought Dishoom to life and the team that is now ready to run it – both full of amazing people. We’re more than a little humbled to be working with such great people.
So, tomorrow morning at eight, we start our ‘soft’ opening. And a week later there will officially be a Bombay Café in London.
Wish us luck!
The Bacon Naan Roll has something of a cult following; it must surely be our signature breakfast dish. The freshly cooked naan is graced with a little cream cheese, tomato-chilli jam and fresh coriander, and wrapped around a few rashers of smoked streaked bacon from top supplier Ramsay of Carluke.
There are many varieties of Chai. The kind we make at Dishoom is the sort of spicy, sweet chai you will find at Bombay's innumerable tapris (street stalls), normally poured with great dexterity and skill from arm's length into a small, stout glass. The powerful concoction of milk, sugar and caffeine is what keeps the city running.
We began working with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in India. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting friendships with the incredible team and had the sincere privilege of visiting many of the schools and communities they serve in India. Last month, we celebrated reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra through our meal for a meal partnership. Akshaya Patra’s CEO and Trustee, Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, kindly took the time to reflect on the impact of the foundation’s life-changing work.
We began working with Magic Breakfast in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in the UK. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting and loyal friendships with the incredible team and their partner schools. This month, we celebrate reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children in partnership with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. Magic Breakfast’s Head of Schools, Rachael Anderson, has kindly taken the time to reflect on the last six years of our work together, as well as sharing her thoughts on the profound impact the past twelve months have had.