Decor recalls the Irani cafes of Bombay in their 1930s hayday. Think marble tables, bentwood chairs, ceiling fans, ageing mirrors and a monochromatic palette – and in Dishoom’s Kensington outlet, combine these with all the original Art Deco architectural features in the stylish Barkers building.
The resulting interior is nothing short of spectacular. Anyone who knows the building will notice that the ceiling echoes the old Rainbow Room on the top floor with its tiered oval cornicing, while booth seating, chequerboard flooring and a huge central clock create the feel of a busy Indian train station dining room.
There are eccentric Indian signs and old photographs on the walls for extra authenticity – although with a space this carefully crafted, authenticity is the one thing that can’t really be achieved. Instead, there’s a sense of pastiche, with a hint of stylish film set. And all of this makes for a very pleasureable space in which to spend time. Our lunchtime visit saw the large space full of diners, attended to swiftly by professional and capable staff. This is a well oiled machine.
Our meal is a feast: we start with house chaat, a sweet and sharp dish of yoghurty sweet potato with pomegranate, beetroot, radish and carrot, that goes well with a chilli broccoli salad laced with mint and lime. Main courses of the famed house black dahl (thick, creamy and comforting) with chicken ruby (full of deep flavour and spice) with a flawlessly charred naan and rice are flavourful and moreish, while a rice pudding with coconut milk and cardamom comes caramelised on top like an extra delicious kind of creme brulee. So what if the space feels a bit Disneyfied? The food’s excellent and the interior is beautiful, so W8’s Dishoom is a clear winner for us.