NOTE: IF YOU ARE READING THIS BEFORE 19 NOVEMBER AT 5PM, SKIP TO THE FOOD PICTURES AND SOFT LAUNCH INFORMATION AND THEN GO IMMEDIATELY.
I work half my shifts from home, and while our little study is a great space for Getting Things Done, I try to leave the house to do creative writing. Partially because a change of place helps you think in new ways, partially so that when I’m famous and dead, London tour guides will have somewhere to take people and go ‘and here’s the very place where she wrote Bard For Life: No Seriously The Globe Won’t Let Me Back In, in fact just at this table here’ and everyone will go ooh and imagine me sitting there thoughtfully crafting sentences about boners in Coriolanus.
This has mostly been Yumchaa in Camden, an excellent tea shop with a lot of light that is just not-busy enough that I don’t feel bad about parking it with my laptop for four hours, but they don’t do savoury hot food and I get grumpy when I’m hungry. I tried making regular writing visits to Dishoom in Shoreditch, where we had an amazing Christmas lunch last year, but the ten-minute walk from Old Street tube is a bit annoying especially now that it’s November and rainy.
Then Dishoom opened a branch right behind King’s Cross last week and all my problems in the world were solved, especially since it’s still in soft opening and everything* is 50% off, including drinks* which isn’t always true.
Dishoom (the Bollywood equivalent of “Kapow!”, the sound a punch makes when it connects – “DISHOOM!”) is the result of one of those wonderful culinary-historical things that happen in an open world: in the 19th century, large numbers of Persian Zoroastrians emigrated to Bombay/Mumbai and brought with them Iranian café culture, which was already influenced by European high-ceilinged all-day coffeehouses. Iranian cafés in Mumbai flourished in the middle of the 20th century, but have been falling off from nearly 400 in the 1960s to around thirty now. And in London eight years ago, three British Indian cousins opened the first Dishoom restaurant – in other words, bringing these cafés to London, from India, from Iran, from continental Europe. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being excited by the ways history makes food culture happen, and vice versa.
I’ve been eating at the King’s Cross Dishoom literally every other day since it opened (days it has been open: 7, days I have eaten there: 4, though I plan to bump this up to 5 tonight) and although reviewing a restaurant in soft opening is a bit like reviewing a play in previews, I feel pretty confident in saying:
- The food’s really good
- The service is really good too
- It’s definitely worth going while it’s half-off but also
- Even after it isn’t.
Here is what I have eaten there and photographed (photos behind cut):