There’s No Place Like Home | Dishoom Carnaby, 22 Kingly Street, London W1B 5QB
We hate to be unfair and write a blog post about a restaurant during its most challenging time – their soft launch. But we’re going to anyway because the restaurant is Dishoom and we love it unconditionally. This is despite them giving me one of the most horrendous and humiliating hangovers of my life at the Kings Cross branch launch party and the putting us through the occasional (but well worth) queue.
It was five years ago that we first discovered Dishoom, thanks to Marina O’Loughlin’s column in Metro. It’s no coincidence that it was around the same time that we started We Love Food. We’ve visited over 500 restaurants since that point but when we’re asked what our favourite London restaurant is (which is practically every time we meet a fellow food lover), Dishoom is always up there, yet we can never remember the last restaurant we visited.
It’s not just the food, it’s the story behind it, the people who bought it to life and the feeling it gives us. We’ve never set foot on Indian soil (we will one day…) but it somehow feels like coming home every time we visit, even if it’s a new branch like Carnaby. The familiarity is there, along with the smiles and their we-want-it-all menu.
Back when they were ‘younger’ and came up with the idea of the Chowpatty beach pop-up, we were treated to a sneak preview. As we sat looking at the plans of the site, the excitement of Dishoom’s owners was infectious and admirable. We don’t really get these opportunities any more but we can sense that this enthusiasm remains, possibly even more so than it ever did.
So we headed down to the fourth branch with our good friend Keith last Sunday, who was with us when we first went to Dishoom, half a decade ago. Our aim was to get there before the breakfast menu finishes at 12pm but judging by the stream of people, the chances of us making the deadline were getting slimmer by the second. We’d travelled up from Kent with train engineering works just for this so we were praying to be in luck.
By some miracle we made it. Inside and seated giving our orders to our waitress one minute before the 11.45 cut off point. A special shout out to the fab Esther who provided us with updates, Far Far (£2,50) snacks, allergy guidance and apologies for the delay on our food. This latest swinging sixties branch is certainly keeping in touch with the Carnaby Street vibe, it’s clear to see just how much fun they had decking it out.
We expected to have to wait, it’s what soft launches are known for, that’s why there’s 50% off, you get what you pay for. We didn’t even realise there was no sign of our breakfast an hour after ordering as we were too busy sipping on bottomless Chai (£2.50) – a great breakfast menu perk and chatting with Keith. He’s not keen on hot drinks so favoured a Virgin Mary (£3.70) instead. Had it been just us two I’m sure waiting so long would be a different story entirely – no offence Ade.
Keith and I both asked for a Ginger Pig Bacon naan roll (£5.50) sans cream cheese (again, thanks to Esther for reminding us it comes with the dreaded stuff). Unfortunately what turned up was a couple of bacon and egg naans with signs of cream cheese inside.
Esther was gutted but it was all fine and quickly rectified, I had my Keema Per Eedu (£7.90) – spicy chicken keema studded with chicken liver, fried eggs and sali crisp-chips and pau to get through. Meanwhile, Ade was falling in love with his Kejriwal (£4.90) – two fried eggs on chilli cheese toast, which has become his new breakfast favourite.
Dishoom seems to be synonymous with waiting for a table, let’s hope that now they have yet another restaurant there are more to go around. Or perhaps they’ll have to scrap their no booking policy for tables of six or less (they do take reservations for groups of any size for breakfast and lunch though.) Or be the new Byron and take over the country with restaurants.
We’d go every week if we could a) afford it and l b) have time. It’s difficult enough trying to keep up with the new openings or places on our list, having full-time jobs as well as We Love Food is actually pretty stressful but I guess it’s not a bad problem to have in the grand scheme of things.
22 Kingly Street, London W1B 5QB
Telephone: 020 7420 9322
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8am-12 midnight
(Mon-Wed -11pm) Sun 9am-11pm
Nearest station: Oxford Circus (4 mins walk) Piccadilly Circus (7 mins walk)
We ended up being given a complimentary meal, purely because of the long wait for our food. Believe it or not, we tried to argue it and pay. This does not affect our review in any way, we always write with complete honesty.