I think that regular readers of the blog will know I have a penchant for East London restaurant Dishoom - its exotic charm in the middle of bustling Shoreditch scoops me up and away to my beloved Bombay. Since its opening in the summer of 2012, the restaurant has always had an outdoor courtyard with some comfortable benches and a cheery ‘Thumbs Up’ sign emblazoned on an exterior wall.
Last night I stopped by for a quick drink with a friend [we ended up returning later to spend the evening there]. Arriving on my own I attempted not to look like I had been punched in the gut by nostalgia at the sight that greeted me. The area had been transformed once again by the talented Russel Sage Studio - sprawling spider plants and cane armchairs, worn terracotta floors, piles of books and bamboo shutters that roll-up, transported me to the infinitely comforting balconies of my childhood.
‘Oh a verandah!’ I thought, which is a typical Indian use of the word for a large covered open area. I didn’t realise that the space is actually called ‘The Verandah at Dishoom’ until I returned home to research it further.
Dishoom continues to excel at seamless experiential branding that really works because it comes from the heart. All I can think about this morning is returning – maybe even today – for breakfast and lunch and dinner – and cloaking myself in its warmth.
[Dishes below; Pau Bhaji - A bowl of mashed vegetables with hot buttered pau bun and Chole Frankie - Spiced chickpeas with fresh coriander and chutney wrapped in naan].
“Outside Dishoom Shoreditch, on the Verandah, the serious business of lounging is in progress. People spill out from the shadows, and laze gratefully in the sunlight. Ice cubes clink inside crystal tumblers. Sunlight warms the brocade fabrics and carved wood of the heavy antique furniture. Shelves – filled with well-thumbed books – sit beside faded old photographs. A thin coil of sandalwood smoke rises from gently burning incense, and scratchy old jazz (Taj Mahal Foxtrot, anyone?) floats out of a 78 playing on the old gramophone. A light breeze ruffles the pages of the Times of India on the sideboard. The armchair creaks as someone settles further into its inviting bulk, sighing with contentment.
Ties are loosened, layers sloughed off. The scent of mint from a freshly-mixed Julep lingers in the air. A waitress refills glasses of Chai from a large battered teapot. Tempting snacks are ordered and passed around, shared, enjoyed; hungry fingers sneak the last pieces of Okra and Skate Cheeks from their bowls.
The chatter of voices and gentle laughter carries onto Boundary Street, and sparks the interest of passers-by. These are the pleasant signs of friends and colleagues at leisure, enjoying an afternoon out on the Verandah. Perhaps they’re even bunking off, absconding from their screens, getting slowly, happily blotto.”