I can’t remember a Birmingham restaurant opening with as much anticipation as Dishoom. It was like half the city was at the soft launches, packing the place out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at every service for two weeks straight.
Inside the venue is beautiful, with fittings hand-picked from Mumbai; each piece quirky and original to this Birmingham site. The solid wooden furniture sits on traditional tiling, separated by vast glass-fronted medicine cabinets filled with authentic Indian products. Although the space - located in the shiny new Paradise forum - is barely a year old, Dishoom have worked their magic to give it the feel of the elegant old Iranian cafes of Mumbai. Outside they also have a large terrace for al fresco dining, thankfully covered for the British weather.
We order a lot. I’m going to say that the street food dishes are better than the curries, but that's not saying much, as those curries are still very good. The chicken tikka (£9.70) is unrecognisable from the version usually sold in this country, being paler in colour and marinated in a hung yogurt to give a more neutral flavour, whilst the masala prawns (£12.90) are a vast portion for not a lot of money and prove to be a crowd-pleaser with crispy edges and tender flesh. You absolutely have to order the chilli chicken (£6.90), which is the spiciest rendition of the Indo-Chinese dish we’ve tried, and the paneer roll (£7.90) would be perfect as a standalone lunch as well as part of a bigger meal. And to calm your tastebuds back down? The house speciality of black dhaal (£6.90) offers a milder dish of smoky and tender braised lentils.
Of the curries, it’s the Birmingham special that takes top ranking. A mutton korma (£19.50), the meat falls away from the bone and into the nutty gravy - we mop up the best bits with khamiri roti. A mattar paneer (£11.50) was maybe a bit too polite and heavy on the cream - we created a better version from their own cookbook over lockdown - whilst a chicken Ruby Murray (£12.50) transpired to be a relatively generic tomato-based curry. We finished it quickly, using the rice to dredge the last of its sauce from the plate.
With all this you’ll need drinks. Whilst one of us stayed firmly on the refillable chai (£3.20), the other went deep into the cocktail list, coming out the other side a huge fan of the Dishoom Espresso Martini (£9.50). The braver of you might want to try out the Viceroy’s Old-Fashioned (£10.50), which, while boozy, is still well balanced. Service is kind and thoughtful, though we expect nothing less from a company who donate a meal to those in need for every one purchased.
Dishoom is a wonderful addition to Birmingham, where the food of India is embedded in our culture. We love it. Whether you’re heading down for a family meal or a foodie date night, there’s a warm welcome (and fully belly) waiting for all.
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