Let us imagine for a moment a particularly rotund pig, that in the excitement of its eager delving for the most delectable truffles, has become wedged among the roots of a large tree – somewhat like Pooh bear after his too many honeys incident. Imagine now that the terrible forest fire that Bambi and friends mercifully escaped from were to envelop said tree, with the unfortunate porcine still encased. You may now have a rough idea of how the exquisite flavour in the bacon that Dishoom casually dish up in their breakfasts might be achieved. You can taste the wood-smoke in every bite, and it is absolutely and matchlessly divine.
But I get ahead of myself here. It’s hard to know where to start the praise though because, actually, nearly everything about Dishoom makes you want to drop your knife and fork and phone a friend to say “when can you get here?”. It’s the feel, as soon as you step through the door, that you’ve actually left London and wandered somehow into a 19th Century first class carriage from Delhi to Calcutta. It’s the gaggle of gaudily painted bicycles adorning the path outside. It’s the wry, understated humour sprinkled through the descriptions on the menu. But most of all, it’s the thrilling flavours that permeate everything that gets put in front of you.
Which brings us to the actual beginning – three steaming glasses of Chai tea. I’ve been to India twice, and sampled quite a few Chai teas – as well as some of those sickly concoctions they serve under the same name in Starbucks and the like. None of them are a patch on this stuff. It’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so – and the bite of the spice is measured to absolute perfection. Do I really dare say perfection? Well, yes I think I do. As you savour it, the soothing hot milky sweetness easing a smile onto your face, just as your senses are simultaneously brought to attention by the sharp tang of the spices. It’s a winning combination, and you finish the glass feeling both relaxed and sharpened up.
The only note that struck slightly amiss was a feeling that the omlette was perhaps a little dry – it’s a different way of doing omlette than you may be accustomed to, and the result may not be to all tastes.
If you want a quick and unusual morning filler, the naan roll offerings are certainly not to be sniffed at – the egg naan roll, which somehow manages to be both exactly what it says and yet still to exceed expectations, is not going to disappoint. A beautifully fried egg, wrapped in a long strip of fluffy naan and sprinkled with a some carefully chosen fresh herbs and dished up with a little tub of outstanding tomato sauce that is so far removed from ketchup that it safely competes in a league of its own and thus ducks the inevitable comparisons that other contenders might face.
The jewel in the crown of Dishoom breakfast though, must surely be the “Full Bombay”. This comprises a good portion of the aforementioned amazing bacon – and when it says “fresh off the flames” on the menu, it’s not just flowery language. It really is. Alongside comes a perfectly cooked sausage, and additional marks are granted here for provision of Cumberland’s finest fare rather than some sorry tasteless excuse for a banger. Add a healthy dollop of “Akuri” – which is basically spicy scrambled eggs, some delectable grilled on the vine tomatoes and a slice of sourdough toast … well, there’s not much that can touch this for a top class breakfast. I should note that the Akuri, although definitely giving a kick, doesn’t blow your head off – you can safely dine here at breakfast, and head directly to a meeting with no fears of inflicting an unfortunate experience on whoever is sits opposite you.
Mr T, having downed the egg naan roll in record time was of the opinion that he could not leave without also sampling the bacon naan roll, and this was indeed a wise assessment. The piggy cousin to the egg naan roll comes with herby cream cheese to complement the much lauded rasher. As we polish the last morsels from our now spotlessly empty plates, we marvel at the fact that we are the only occupants other than a lone diner by the bar who looks suspiciously like a member of staff. Why is this place not packed from wall to wall?
The bill arrives, to distract us from these ruminations – which reminds me of one other thing that makes you want to go out and physically drag people in from the street to fill the tables. It’s that breakfast here is almost criminally cheap. Egg naan roll? Less than three quid. Stick that in your McMuffin and smoke it. Even the Full Bombay is only £8. You start to wonder whether someone forgot to add the VAT on or something. In any case, it’s just one more reason to get yourself in here before the crowds arrive. It can only be a matter of time. In fact, why are you still reading this? Get over there now!