Imagine a summer afternoon, unusually sunny; hot, humid and expectant, like Bombay just before the monsoon. The kind of day that might make Londoners stop in their tracks, stare for a minute at the surprising blue of the sky, and clock out of work.
Outside Dishoom Shoreditch, on the Verandah, the serious business of lounging is in progress. People spill out from the shadows, and laze gratefully in the sunlight. Ice cubes clink inside crystal tumblers. Sunlight warms the brocade fabrics and carved wood of the heavy antique furniture. Shelves – filled with well-thumbed books – sit beside faded old photographs. A thin coil of sandalwood smoke rises from gently burning incense, and scratchy old jazz (Taj Mahal Foxtrot, anyone?) floats out of a 78 playing on the old gramophone. A light breeze ruffles the pages of the Times of India on the sideboard. The armchair creaks as someone settles further into its inviting bulk, sighing with contentment.
Ties are loosened, layers sloughed off. The scent of mint from a freshly-mixed Julep lingers in the air. A waitress refills glasses of Chai from a large battered teapot. Tempting snacks are ordered and passed around, shared, enjoyed; hungry fingers sneak the last pieces of Okra and Skate Cheeks from their bowls.
The chatter of voices and gentle laughter carries onto Boundary Street, and sparks the interest of passers-by. These are the pleasant signs of friends and colleagues at leisure, enjoying an afternoon out on the Verandah. Perhaps they’re even bunking off, absconding from their screens, getting slowly, happily blotto.
Sadly, it wouldn’t be very sensible to have an entirely outdoor Verandah. This is London, not Bombay. Little monsoons occur daily.
So we invite you to join us at our lovely, new, indoor-outdoor Verandah at Dishoom Shoreditch. Pleasantly cozy, covered and warmed when the weather is inclement, but not when it’s hot.
On any day of the week, breakfast on the Verandah is relaxed, with Bacon Naans, fresh fruit, and eggs served several ways – Omelettes, Akuri or fried sunny-side-up in a naan – accompanied by strong Monsooned Malabar coffee, or endless refills of our very good House Chai.
At lunch, different persons may rub shoulders – friends eating, creatives creating, ladies lunching and workers giving up their desks for an armchair (complete with ChaiFi).
Afternoons are the perfect time to take tea, perhaps accompanied by one or two small plates, or biscuits from the bakery.
And as evening falls, Sundowners – that great Bombay tradition – are served. A Gin Fizz, Madame? Or maybe you’d rather a Julep? Perhaps a Viceroy’s Old Fashioned for you, Sir. It’s a Bombay Pimm’s for me, I think.
So – we very much hope you’ll come and indulge in a little relaxed Bombay lounging with us on the indoor-outdoor Verandah, for whatever the occasion might be, and with no heed whatsoever paid to the weather.
IT HAS BEEN an annual December habit of mine, these past ten years since we embarked upon this restaurant business, to sit alone, with myself, and reflect on the year gone by. I am grateful to be here in the Permit Room in our restaurant in Shoreditch scribbling and writing, the oddly enjoyable taste of splintering wood from my chewed up pencil smoothed by my decently strong drink.
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.