Dishoom, the much loved Indian café and restaurant chain, opened its first branch North of the border in Edinburgh, just before Christmas, and its been packed ever since. Already hugely popular in London, Dishoom Edinburgh is open every day from early until late, serving Executive Chef Naved Nasir’s breakfast menu followed by the all-day sharing menu of authentic Bombay comfort food including small plates, grills, biryanis, salad plates, rolls and curries.
Their new home is a three-storey 1920s listed building on St Andrews Square. There is an open kitchen on the ground floor, a first floor dining room with views across St. Andrew Square, and a basement bar called The Permit Room.
The restaurant features a ‘story’ inspired by Scotsman Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), a botonist, ecologist and social reformer who was a long-term resident of both Edinburgh and Bombay. Dishoom Edinburgh also marks a return to Edinburgh for Dishoom co-founder Kavi Thakrar, who went to university in the city.
This is the fifth restaurant in the Dishoom stable, which currently has outlets in London’s Covent Garden, Shoreditch (pictured), King’s Cross and Carnaby Street.
Their breakfasts are a treat and keep appearing in ‘Best London Breakfasts’ lists. The bacon & egg naan is a must. Ramsay of Carluke’s smoked streaky bacon and two fried free-range eggs with saffron-yellow, runny yolks are wrapped in a warm, freshly baked naan. It is then graced with a little cream cheese, chilli tomato jam and fresh herbs. This is a Dishoom signature dish, and deserving of all its accolades. Even if you fancy something else, at least have this on the side.
Akuri (bottom right dish in photo above) is an Irani café staple. Three spicy scrambled eggs piled up richly alongside plump pau buns and served with grilled tomato. Absolutely delicious. And down below, Kerjriwal…two fried eggs on chilli cheese toast.
If you are going for their all-day menu, you have a lot to choose from. From small plates to grills and biryani, there is something for everyone. Gunpowder Potatoes are smoky-grilled, broken apart, tossed with butter, crushed aromatic seeds and green herbs. Spicy Lamb Chops lie overnight in a special marinade of lime juice and jaggery, warm dark spices, ginger and garlic. They’re blackened by the grill, but still juicy inside. There is cheddar cheese naan. Yes, naan filled with cheese. Pull apart its stringy, oozy goodness and dip it into the House Black Daal, a Dishoom signature dish. Its dark and rich and deeply flavoured, having been simmered for over 24 hours.
And don’t forget to order a chai at the end of the meal. The Bailey’s chai is out of this world!
If you are having to wait on a table, and be prepared for this, head downstairs to the Permit Room for a cocktail or two. Named after the official term for all Bombay drinking establishments, in which, according to the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, only permit-holders may consume alcohol (and only ‘for preservation and maintenance of one’s health’!).
The Permit Room pays homage to the Bombay tradition of Parsi theatre, which saw Persian, Indian and English stage classics reimagined in Hindu, Urdu, Gujarati and English. Known for preposterous plots and eccentric characters, Parsi theatre drew all kinds of people to the Pila House district of Bombay. The Dishoom team visited Bombay institutions like Capitol Theatre and the Royal Opera House to research the Permit Room’s design. They collaborated with Bombay author Meher Marfatia to carefully curate the artwork that decorates the walls – all authentic photos of famous Parsi playwrights, and heroes of Parsi theatre, as well as original theatre posters. The bar menu features original adverts from the period and hand-drawn illustrations to give you a detailed guide to available tipples. And my goodness, those tipples are good!
Dishoom’s award-winning Daru-walla, Carl Brown, has devised a brand new list of cocktails especially for the Permit Room, which take inspiration from the Parsi theatre tradition. Marzban’s Fizz, made with Smoked Chikoo, Indian pear and Johnnie Walker Black Label, topped with a soda fizz | The Pila House Sling is made with 1800 Coconut Tequila, Chartreuse, Cointreau, pistachio, rhubarb liqueurs and ample fresh jackfruit juice | Tehmul’s Tangle, a cinnamon-tinted threesome of Hayman’s sloe gin, fresh lemon juice and ginger. A sly Dishoom pimento soda adds a little spice to the affair.
For Edinburgh’s designated drivers, expectant mothers and tee-totallers, he has concocted a unique selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, affectionately known as ‘copy tipples.’ These clever tipples led to the Permit Room menu being awarded ‘Non-alcoholic bar menu of the year’ for 2016 by The Spirits Business. Each one looks, feels and tastes like serious drinks, but are entirely alcohol free.
From the Dry Old-Fashioned with smoked demerara, orange bitters, juniper, applewood, cayenne and orange peel, and the Sober Martini with juniper, ginger and gentian root in grape and cucumber waters to the Virtuous Tulsi Sour…a peaty Whisky Sour with no whisky! Just the warming aromas of juniper, ginger, lemon, holy basil and secret botanicals. You need never feel out of place while abstaining again.
The Permit Room is open every evening from 5pm until 3am. Resident DJs play carefully curated soul, vintage R&B, new wave gems and funky retro Indian beats. From 11pm each evening the music goes up and the lights go down and the party really starts. Last orders are at 2.30am.
Restaurant: Mon-Wed: 8am-11pm | Thurs-Fri: 8am-12am | Sat 9am-12am | Sun 9am-11pm The Permit Room: open every evening from 5pm until 3am
Reservations for The Permit Room are available for groups of up to 12 guests from 5pm until 1:30am every night. For reservation enquiries email: firstname.lastname@example.org.