My experience at the Indian restaurant, Dishoom (King’s Cross), last night was a breath of fresh air. I had to pinch myself several times to make sure I was still awake and in London. Tucked in the back of the Western Transit Shed at Granary Square, you’re not sure if you’re queuing for a London hotspot, or trying to get into a Bristol quayside restaurant or a strip mall in Vegas. To be surrounded by so much new–modern buildings, contemporary designs, a vast open park filled with students and CrossFit classes–it just did not feel like the old, cozy London we know. The park is absolutely beautiful, offering views of the canal and colorful fountains from oversized, grass-covered steps and modern eateries.
The area was so cool and relaxed, that no one seemed to mind the long line for the restaurant and the 1 hour and 40 minute wait for a table. I knew the place did not accept reservations, but I was not prepared for the time investment Dishoom would require. Luckily, my husband arrived first, and found us a table for drinks while the staff scrambled to accommodate us. We arrived at 6:30 and planned to eat before a concert at the Lexington, where doors opened at 8:00.
(Entrance to Main Bar)
We waited with two Old Fashioneds from their menu. We typically go with either a U.S. or U.K. basic version, but their cocktail menu was so enticing we tried their signature Viceroy and Hornimann’s Old Fashioneds. And in true relationship fashion, I got to keep the one I liked best, the rum-based Hornimann’s, and my husband was happy he was left with something. The drinks are pre-made in cute, little corked bottles, that they decoratively display on bar shelves, and given with a glass of ice. This is a speedy, refreshing change from all of the craft cocktails that take 20 minutes to perfect when you only need 5 to drink them.
During our drinks, a hostess and a manager continuously reassured us that they were working on finding us a place to eat quickly, as long as we were open to eating in the lounge area or at the bar. The entire time, they were enthusiastic we were dining with them and never made us feel like we were inconveniencing them. This is extremely unusual to find in London. The London service industry is not like the U.S. and I find it very rare to have an outstanding service experience. London does not have a tipping culture like the U.S., and has very different management styles when it comes to service. After being in London for some time, a customer-focused place like Dishoom really stood out to me.
We ended up at two bar seats, with menus and our Old Fashioneds, within 20 minutes of arriving! The bartender was also understanding of our time constraints, and expedited our Vegetable Samosas, Bowl of Greens, Paneer and Mahi Tikkas, and Naan. We had just the right amount of delicious food, which, by the way, comes at an extremely affordable price!
We were in our Uber just before 8:00, heading to the Lexington, a relaxed pub that has an upstairs music venue. There we saw our friends from the U.S., Bronze Radio Return, open for the Dunwells. I also have to mention the self-deprecating, young girl, Lucy May Walker, who was playing when we arrived to warm the crowd up. The three acts were great, and the double vodka sodas weren’t bad either.
The night was a success and we owe it to the kind people at Dishoom for setting the tone. I can’t wait to try their other locations!
Dishoom, 5 Stable Street, London N1C 4AB
The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JB
Bronze Radio Return, bronzeradioreturn.com
The Dunwells, thedunwells.com
Lucy May Walker, lucymaywalkerofficial.com