Bombay dream: Dishoom’s latest bar and restaurant

Dishoom Permit Room

Mark Ludmon steps back to the sixties at the latest Dishoom in the Carnaby area of London. Pictures by John Carey

Kavi and Shamil Thakrar have taken inspiration from the old Irani cafés of Mumbai for their Dishoom restaurants and bars around London but, for their new site in Soho, they also looked to the local area. Their fourth is in Kingly Street near Carnaby Street – a hotbed for fashion and music in the “swinging 60s” which, in turn, kicked off a rock ‘n’ roll craze in India. This joint heritage has inspired the interiors, from the eclectic memorabilia to the fabrics and colours, designed with leading hospitality specialist Macaulay Sinclair.

The 7,000 sq ft venue is made up of a series of dining, café-style and lounge spaces, with seats for 196 diners and another 38 in the courtyard. Furniture specialist Noble Russell has produced mid-century-style bespoke pieces such as the signature Dishoom table tops with gingham fabric in orange covered with glass and edged with sapele wood. The owners also sourced and restored over 150 antiques that might have furnished a 1950s Bombay café.

Dishoom Conservatory John Carey

At the entrance is the Permit Room, with seating for 20 at high tables and along the bar, based on the bar concept at Dishoom in King’s Cross and Shoreditch. The drinks selection has been put together by the group’s bar manager, or “daru-walla” (alcohol man), Carl Brown who also looked to the 1960s for inspiration for drinks. New cocktails unique to the site include the Thunderball, based on a Sloe Gin Fizz and topped with Indian cola Thums Up and finished with popping candy.

The Commander is a bone-dry Martini of pepper-washed Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin and Kamm & Sons aperitif with an absinthe rinse, while the Debonair is a refreshing combination of marmalade vodka, orange, ginger, star anise, bitters and orange cream soda. The Velvette Fogg is a decadent mix of chai ice cream melted with coffee liqueur and vodka.

A list of “pegs” – bottled-aged twisted classics – includes a Manhattan and a Negroni made with Dishoom’s own vermouth which adds flavours such as cinnamon and vanilla. A favourite is the Chai Paanch made with Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Ceylon Arrack, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, lemon shrub, house chai, ginger liqueur and 80% cocoa liqueur.

Alongside the extensive list of wines and cocktails, including non-alcoholic recipes, the bar offers ciders and beers such as the house IPA brewed by Mondo Brewing Company. Small dishes are available in the bar but it is hard to resist the full menu in the dining areas. Alongside Dishoom’s all-day offering of small plates, grills, biryanis, salad plates, rolls and curries, the Carnaby restaurant has its own signature dish, a sali boti – a Parsi classic consisting of tender lamb braised in a rich gravy and finished with crunchy sali crisp-chips plus a side of delicate handkerchief bread. Open from breakfast till late, the new Dishoom is a swinging addition to the group.

Dishoom Carnaby, 22 Kingly Street, London W1B 5QB
Tel: 020 7420 9322

Dishoom cocktail menu

Design: Macaulay Sinclair
Main contractor: Interiors UK
Furniture: Noble Russell, Taylor’s Classics
Flooring: Superior Stone
Lighting: The Light Corporation
Ventilation: Chapman Ventilation
Kitchen: Hallmark Kitchens
Electrical contractor: Amdon Electrical

Originally published in the December 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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