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!
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.
Since 2015, for every Dishoom meal you’ve enjoyed (whether in the cafés, via delivery, or as a meal kit), we’ve donated a meal to a child that might otherwise go hungry. A meal for a meal. This month, as we reached the milestone of donating 10 million meals, we had occasion to catch up with our dear friends and long-term charity partners, Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. The work both charities do to end hunger as a barrier to education is simply incredible and we’re extremely proud to be able to support them and the communities they serve in the UK and India, respectively. We kindly invite you to take a moment to hear their reflections on our partnership and on the impact of the very important work they do.
Uttapam are a fluffy savoury dosa, made with rice. They're usually enjoyed with savoury toppings but we particularly like ours with lashings of jaggery syrup and a thick, strained yoghurt. Chef Naved has shared his recipe for making an extra fluffy stack at home.
Our Old-Fashioned bottled cocktail takes its name from the Permit Room bar, found in every Dishoom and so named after the official term for all Bombay drinking establishments, in which, according to the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, only permit-holders may consume alcohol. Herein, liquor can be sold and imbibed, but only for the goodness of one’s health.
Though the doors of the Permit Room are closed for now, you can still enjoy our tipples in bottled form at home. Follow our lead to achieve the perfect pour, and transport yourself back to a cosy corner of the bar.