They're always glad you came at Edinburgh restaurant Dishoom, says Gaby Soutar

Automated serving systems, online complaint forms, waiting lists, those jingles they play when you’re waiting for someone (anyone?) to take your call.

It seems that in every area of life, the ratio of customer to staff is increasing. It’s all about efficiency and making savings, they say (as you put down your basket and silently moonwalk out of the shop because the queue is too slow).

In most chain restaurants, there is usually one harassed and beetroot-faced person juggling a million chores, sorting your bill while they try to clear up a spilled drink and take the next table’s order. Not so at this new all-day eatery, which has opened its first Scottish branch.

Among my friends, I’ve probably been the last to visit (they all went during the 50 per cent off launch deal). Everyone mentioned the staff.

“There’s lots of them”, “They’re so friendly”, “They gave us our drinks for free, because they liked us”.

Indeed, on our visit, there were people to check our booking, someone else to lead us to our table (“a lovely upstairs booth”), meeters-and-greeters at the top of the stairs. Everyone has time to chat.

They are hyper-enthusiastic if you need advice on the menu, which is inspired by Bombay’s old Irani cafes. Helpful, as the choice is huge.

Dishes come as smaller helpings for sharing, or go solo with some of the larger options. We went for a couple of small fishy Small Plates – the Dishoom calamari (£5.90) and the prawn koliwada (£6.20), both good.

The curved stamps of squid resembled pork scratchings, with a nice furry crumb and, across the top, a drizzle of a sweet but lethally spicy liquid, like the trail from a radioactive snail. Our bowlful of nine or so chilli powder dusted and still bouncily textured prawns also had a bit of a crunch followed by a kick, and featured a dark dip on the side that tasted of tamarind and garlic.

From the Grills list, the trio of pomegranate seed topped spicy lamb chops (£11.90) were thick with spice and fatty chargrilled crust, but still pink inside.

Lovely.

We also had a set of five hunks of chicken tikka (£6.90), which had been made using a marinade of sweet vinegar rather than yogurt. They were decent, with a light ginger and garlic hit and the satisfyingly granular texture of lengthily marinated chook breast.
Apparently, the “black house daal” (£5.90) is “simmered over 24 hours for extra harmony”.

It divided the crowd, probably because it was so intense. It tasted of, well, everything – cheese, meat, salt, sugar, chocolate, eternity. It was like a fine red wine.

One of us had gone for the pau bhaji (£4.50), since he’s a chip butty/crisp sandwich kind of dude.

“It’s like a tattie scone in a roll,” was the report, when it came to this batter-covered curry bollard, served in a shiny bap. “It would cure a hangover if I had one.”

(He’ll come back once he’s finished the leftover Christmas sherry).

Distracted by the protein, we neglected our fragrant rice dish of chicken berry Britannia biryani (£8.90), served in its own pot. Though slightly dry, it was pleasant – comfort foody, with soft poultry thigh hunks, blistered cranberries, fried onions and cardamom.

We drew a lottery as to who would get to take the lefties home (the winner says it tasted even better at dinner time).

As far as sides go, we didn’t really need the steamed basmati rice (£2.90), though the tissues of tawa-grill-speckled roomali roti bread (£2.50) were perfect for mopping up the leftover black daal.

If you’ve got space, puddings are worth a whirl. The pineapple and black pepper crumble (£5.50) was light and fruity (the pepper element is pretty negligible) with a jug of vanilla flecked custard, while, the chocolate pudding (£6.90) was like a flourless chocolate cake, with a scoop of chilli ice-cream (disguised all in white, like a Tarantino bride), on the side.

There are other things I want to try here – the cocktails, the roomali rolls at lunch, the Bombay omelette at breakfast. Most of all, when there’s nobody to talk to in the supermarket, I want to come back and see my friends. I mean, the waiting staff.

Dishoom

3a St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
(0131-202 6406, www.dishoom.com)

How Much?

Lunch for three, £68, excluding drinks

Dishoom, Edinburgh, Restaurant Review
Food80%
Ambience80%
80%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (20 Votes)
53%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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