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 origins of chintz can be firmly – and humbly – traced back to 16th century India. The word ‘chintz’ is derived from the Hindi word ‘chint’, meaning spotted or splattered. These intricate designs and endless patterns were traditionally hand-printed using wooden blocks - kalamkari - and brilliantly coloured natural dyes.
We often find it too easy to hurtle through the days, in an attempt to outpace the bustling city – be it London or Bombay – which always seems to be running away like a steam-engine train on a rickety track. Occasionally, it does us good to pause for thought, to disembark the carriage and sit on the platform awhile.
How does one create a space where people can truly connect over food? How can a host make their guests feel relaxed, at ease, and suitably cared for? Since launching our all-new Dishoom Crockery, we have been pondering the answers to these questions even more than usual. We recently discussed them with Creative Director - and frequent dinner party hostess - Kirthanaa Naidu when we invited her to create a first-class tablescape in our Canary Wharf café.
Each year, the spring equinox – when day and night are equal length – marks a transition in earth’s relationship with the sun. This event, sacred to many cultures throughout history, today thrives as a new year celebration for hundreds of millions.
In Bombay, London, and throughout the South Asian diaspora, you’ll find many folks of the Zoroastrian faith (amongst others) celebrating this new year, or Navroz as we like to call it.