But for once it isn’t because I want to be fashionably late, or indeed want to wait for all of the dust to settle, but because I’m a rather lazy man who very rarely eats breakfast of any kind.
If I am to eat breakfast, it’s either two Beroccas in a mug of tepid tap water or a leftover kebab from the night before. It’s my most skipped meal ever, and that includes my tea when I come home to find my fridge only contains pickled eggs and half a block of rancid butter.
But I’ve heard fantastic things about Dishoom’s breakfast. In fact, I’ve never heard a bad word said about any morsel of food that Dishoom err.. dish out – be it breakfast, cocktails, desserts, or something from their extensive main menu of delights.
I’m here to talk about the breakfast though, and the whole concept that Dishoom are going for is firmly based within the traditional Iranian cafes that adorned the streets of Bombay in the first half of the 20th Century, and became the fabric of everyday life in the city.
Opened by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost 400 of these cafes at their peak in the 1960s. They were the first places in Bombay where people of any culture, class or religion could take cool refuge from the street with a cup of chai, a simple snack or a hearty meal. Today, fewer than 30 remains.
I should mention at this point that I’ve actually been to one of the remaining 30 cafes in Mumbai – and thus I’m clearly the most experienced person in the Finest office to conduct this review – regardless of my atrocious writing and embarrassing grammar.
I visited the legendary Britannia & Co back in 2011 and was bowled over not just by the range of baked goods on offer but mostly by the buzz and atmosphere in there – a fantastic place to soak up the city’s atmosphere and truly feel like part of the history of the place.
Sitting down in Dishoom’s exquisite first-floor interior, it’s clear to see that they mean to re-create this atmosphere and sensation to the best of their ability. Just like in Mumbai the space is open, the walls are adorned with random pictures (and rules) and you instantly feel relaxed.
You’re further made to feel relaxed as soon as one of Dishoom’s fantastic servers comes along, whom all seem to possess a real passion not just for the food but also for the whole ‘story’ of Dishoom.
We were treated to an entertaining introduction of Iranian cafes, and how they were a truly revolutionary force within an often increasingly segregated city. Then there was the passion demonstrated with the menu – a menu which I should probably swiftly move on to right now.
To say that the Breakfast Menu at Dishoom is large is a severe understatement. You’re going to need some assistance to navigate the wide range of dishes and drinks on offer. It’s separated into various sections; ‘Cooked Breakfast’, ‘Fruits, Grains & Breads’, ‘Dishoom Naan Rolls’ and then ‘Side Orders’ should you wish to double up on any of the meat or vegetables in your dish.
We decided to order as much as we could stomach from each section, as well as a few of Dishoom’s rather impressive breakfast cocktails (and of course the chai).
First up was the legendary Bacon Naan Roll (£6.50). This beauty certainly has a reputation w – it’s more famous than David Beckham’s left foot, Beyonce’s bottom and Jimmy Hill’s chin combined, and since appearing in Manchester last year it’s been a permanent fixture at the top of my ‘must eat’ list.
It certainly deserves any praise that is lauded upon it – this sandwich is truly majestic. Stuffed full of streaky smoked bacon, you’ll also find ample scoops of chilli jam and cream cheese in there – both working together to produce quite possibly the best bacon butty ‘sauce’ ever devised.
If you’ve never had one – you need to sort yourself out. If you have had one – you’re in luck – they now offer a DOUBLE Bacon Naan Roll (£9.00) so you’ve got another excuse to pop in and chow down.
Now, I didn’t have this but the Wrestler’s Naan Roll (£9.50) would certainly be on my list next time I visit. Named after the Koolar & Co Cafe’s HUGE portions, this naan roll comes stuffed to the brim with smoked bacon, peppery pork sausage and a runny egg. This will certainly sort out ANY hangover in seconds I’m sure of it.
Next up was something on the sweeter side, and a brand-new addition to Dishoom’s breakfast menu. The Sweet Appam Stack (£7.90) is a gluten-free alternative to pancakes and they are once again – I was thoroughly impressed.
Three fluffy appam pancakes take centre stage on your plate, made with a combination of fermented rice batter and coconut milk. They come soaked in a wonderful jaggery syrup and topped with fresh berries, toasted coconut flakes and some shrikhand – a form of strained Greek yoghurt with saffron and cardamom.
I must admit that I quickly devoured ALL of these wonderful pancakes, and in record time too. If you are looking for something on the sweeter side for your breakfast, then these should be your first choice. There’s so many flavours and textures in here that every bite you take is different and they’re the perfect way to start your day in the freshest way imaginable.
I’ll take a bit of time to talk through what we were drinking while all of this was going on. Mostly because I like to leave my absolute favourite dish until the end – to keep people reading of course.
In this respect I ended up having my arm well and truly twisted by various members of Dishoom staff to order The Dhoble (£8) – a stunning cocktail which pays tribute to one of Mumbai’s most famous coppers.
The name comes from the notorious Assistant Commissioner of Police of Bombay, Vasant Dhoble, a man who infamously walked the streets of the city knocking people’s alcoholic drinks out of their hands with his hockey stick (a replica of which adorns the Dishoom bar in fact).
Of course, my arm didn’t need too much twisting to order this at 9.30am in the morning – I’m usually 3 cans of Strongbow down at that point anyway, but if you’re worried about treating yourself to a cocktail in the morning don’t be – this tipple is a definite MUST TRY.
It’s a refreshing combination of fresh orange and lemon juice, topped with vodka, jaggery and a dash of orange bitters. I ended up drinking 3 – they’re fantastic.
Right, back to the food and the next dish we tucked into was pure comfort food and something that is certainly one of the naughtiest ways to start the morning off. The Kejriwal (£6.90) is a little like a Croque Madame but with an Indian twist.
It’s two slices of chilli cheese toast topped with a couple of runny fried eggs and it’s brilliant. As soon as your knife breaks open a yolk you’re in heaven, mopping up the rich blobs of golden yellow with slightly spicy, slightly crispy cheese on toast – this is what breakfast is made for!
On to the final dish we tried at Dishoom and certainly my favourite – the wonderful Keema per Eedu (£10.90). This spicy bowl of is truly a sensation, with a spicy chicken mince spiked with chunks of tender chicken liver, topped with two eggs and some little potato crisps.
The first thing to do is to get your knife and fork in there and absolutely bash it all about so everything mixes together. Then rip chunks off the accompanying home-made buns and dip to your hearts’ desire – savouring the spicy keema and creamy egg concoction.
The crisps add a welcome bit of texture and the stunning chicken livers act as a great surprise when you find one – of which there many of in fact – Dishoom don’t scrimp on the portions I assure you.
It’s truly magnificent and even though the Bacon Naan Roll gets all the glory, the Keema per Eedu is the unsung hero of this truly fantastic breakfast menu. There’s even a brand-new soy-based vegetarian version (£10.50) too which makes things a whole lot more exciting for everyone.
So the title of this piece asks whether the Dishoom Breakfast really is as good as people say that it is- and of course, the answer is YES.
Word of mouth never lets you down, and as we sat in the stunning interior, tucking into the fantastic food, a quick look around the room uncovered an awful lot of people doing the same.
People completely enthralled in the atmosphere, service and food of the place, genuinely savouring their hard-earned breakfast time. If that isn’t a good enough endorsement for what Dishoom has done in transporting the traditional Iranian cafes from Mumbai to Manchester, I don’t know what is.
Breakfast Menu at Dishoom
When: 8am – 11.45am (weekdays), 9am – 11.45am (weekends)
Dishoom Manchester, 32 Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3BT