SADLY, THE CHOWPATTY BEACH BAR HAS NOW LEFT THE SOUTHBANK – READ ITS OBITUARY HERE
Dishoom brings Bombay’s famous Chowpatty Beach to the South Bank of London for a summer party…
May 13th – Oct 4th
Monday – Friday: Noon ’til late
Saturday – Sunday: 10am ’til late
Just walk in – no reservations
Dishoom Chowpatty Beach
Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace
London SE1 8XX
Nearest tube – Waterloo or Embankment
Waterloo sunset. Pink sky, warm summer evening. Big Ben and the London Eye to the west, St Paul’s to the east. Strolling along to Southbank Centre, you see sand, bunting and hundreds of Londoners young and old, enjoying the Festival of Britain 60th anniversary celebrations.
But then you hear the enchanting sound of Hindi music.You notice the spicy aroma of fresh Pau Bhaji. Chilled Thums Up bottles clink. Children chase balloons across the sand.You see a colourful old fishing boat, full of green coconuts, ready to be cut open and sipped from. Naughty Gola Ices look cool and tempting. Where did the old grey portakabin go? And who put this crazy Indian beach shack up on the Southbank?
It can all get a bit serious and gloomy can’t it? The cuts, the unemployment, the earthquakes, climate change. There hardly seems to be any good news, and it’s not been an easy time for us Londoners.
But every now and again we have to let our collective hair down. Take a holiday. Lighten up. Do something we wouldn’t normally do. A little bit of fun and laughter makes all the difference in the world. It nourishes the soul.
This summer, the Southbank is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the original Festival of Britain, which was itself celebrated amidst the austerity of post-war reconstruction. There will be a big beach along the promenade (really!) with lots of bunting and Tracy Emin doing her first show for years, Ray Davis of the Kinks doing the Meltdown Festival and Vintage Goodwood relocating to the South Bank.
And we wanted to do our bit as adopted Londoners. If an old Bombay Café strolled casually down to the beach (while perhaps on a mild acid trip), the result would be the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar.
From early May to the beginning of October we’re taking you on a little summer holiday, right here in London. You’ll be able to kick off your flip flops, tuck into tasty Bombay food and sip refreshing tipples right here on the South Bank.
And we’ve built it jugaad-style. Jugaad is a great word. It’s hindi for ‘making do’ or ‘reusing’ or ‘creative improvisation’. We’re actually already well into construction on the Southbank (go and have a look!) and we’re making do with what we can find. (Apparently, this is also called up-cycling). We’re using old materials, furnishings and decorations – brightly coloured barrels for stools, reclaimed railway sleepers as bench seating on the alfresco terrace, a bar made from recycled plastic bottles and walls erected using old tightly-rolled newspapers. There are even old freight pallets cladding the outside of the building. Look out for labels which tell you what things used to be…
Enter the beach bar via an arched walkway festooned with thousands of multi-coloured used carrier bags (with some of yours if you follow our facebook page!). Faded portraits playfully subvert our more strait-laced home on St Martin’s Lane. We’ve also jazzed up the soundtrack. Our resident DJ was asked to create music which took Dishoom on a acid trip on Chowpatty Beach in 1965. (We actually haven’t heard the result yet…)
The original Chowpatty beach in Bombay.
Chowpatty beach is where all Bombay comes to snack and stroll. Every Bombayite has nostalgic memories of magical evenings with family and friends, enjoying the view of the Arabian Sea at dusk and the lights of the skyline across the bay.The ramshackle food stalls that pepper the beach are revered for serving the tastiest Pau Bhaji in India. Everyone has their favourite Gola-walla, who shaves ice from huge blocks, packs it onto a stick and douses it in delicious syrup.
The Gola-wallas at Dishoom Chowpatty beach will be serving authentic Gola flavours, alongside their playful (and naughty) twists.The rest of the drinks menu is also tempting – Bombay Pimm’s Summer Cup, Spiked Colaba Ice Tea, Classic Dishoom Chaijito, Beers, Wines, Prosecco and Pommery Pop Champagne served in baby bottles.
You can also treat yourself to classic Bombay food, including Pau Bhaji, the Dishoom Frankie (freshly baked naan filled with spicy lamb mince), and what is almost an obsession in Bombay – the naughty Vada Pau, fried potatoes in a bun with homemade chilli chutneys – you could call it an Indian chip butty. And, we couldn’t do a menu without the much-loved bacon naan roll – this time served all day. (Yes! All day!)
So, loosen that tie, roll up your trousers, bare those legs (they need the sun!) and join the party at Dishoom Chowpatty Beach.
PS. Make sure you ‘like’ our Facebook page for cool freebies, offers and news on events.
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.
BOMBAY, 1949. A sultry June evening. Lights glow golden. Candles flicker in the warm breeze that arrives gently through the large open windows of the café.