IN WHICH AN ELUSIVE Irani dupes Sexton Blake in a Freemason's hall.
It is a hazy November morning and it is already warm. The roads are thronged with bullock carts, cycles and pedestrians. There is bustle and noise all along the pavement, which is shared both by those who walk along it and those who make their living there. Barbers deftly wield razors, while the chappal-seller unpacks neat baskets of shoes from the shoemaker. Women in saris sit on flower-shrouded mats preparing garlands of roses and carnations and men in white kurtas dash around on errands. Spice, jasmine and dust mix in the air. Circling crows caw.
Dishoom is mostly a walk-in café. All are welcome, at any time, no reservations needed. However, if you'd like to make a reservation, we hold a handful of tables back for groups of all sizes, every day until 5.45pm. After 6pm, a small number of reservable tables at specific times are also available.
It is a hazy November morning. The roads are thronged with bullock carts, cycles and pedestrians and there is bustle and noise all along the pavement. Barbers deftly wield razors, while the chappal-seller unpacks neat baskets of shoes from the shoemaker. Women in saris sit on flower-shrouded mats preparing garlands of roses and carnations and men in white kurtas dash around on errands. Spice, jasmine and dust mix in the air.
Slightly away from the scene outside, a smartly dressed Englishman with pomaded black hair and a lantern jaw, sits on a bentwood chair in Café Excelsior, an Irani café on Ravellin Street. He takes a sip of his strong chai and studies the character of the Irani café and its patrons. Families enjoy their morning tea and talk. Students (chatting more loudly than they need to) tuck into their plates of omelettes. In a corner, a well-dressed businessman reads The Bombay Chronicle, while a ‘modern’ woman opposite coolly waits for her breakfast. As new customers enter, they exchange loud greetings with a wizened Irani sporting a prominent moustache and thick steel-rimmed glasses. He is perched behind a desk near the entrance, and appears to be the owner.
The man observing is Sexton Blake, the world-renowned detective known for his penetrating intellect and his taste for fine cigars. He arrived in Bombay that morning, summoned by the note from enemy-turned-ally, Beram. Its few but forceful words are etched into his memory: “You must come to Bombay. Meet me in the Irani café behind the Freemasons’ Hall – I will know when you are there. Your debt has been called.”
BEGIN YOUR DAY AT DISHOOM with breakfast, which might be a Bacon Naan Roll, a Kejriwal or a Big Bombay. Then lunch lightly on Roomali Rolls and Salad Plates, or linger with a feast. Refresh your afternoon with a drop of Chai and a small plate or two. Dine early or dine late. Or just join us for a tipple – perhaps an India Gimlet, a Permit Room Old-fashioned, or our very good Dishoom IPA?
Since 1949, and to this very day Bombay has been under a state of prohibition. Set apart from a family room, there is a special place where only permit holders may consume liquor which has come to be known unofficially as a Permit Room. Our Permit Room – the bar within our Manchester café serves the most delicious and sincere old cocktails, recalling the days before Independence, such as Gimlets, Juleps and Sours; Fizzes and Old-Fashioneds, and a Bombay Presidency Punch.
32 Bridge Street
Tel: 0161 537 3737