Inspired by the exotic romance of the Irani cafes in old Bombay, Dishoom is a brand new 9,000 sq ft restaurant just opened at Granary Square, Kings Cross.
The restaurant is spread over three floors of a restored Victorian industrial building known as The Stables, as it was used to house the draft horses that pulled the canal boats. Main Contractors for the project were Interiors UK; designers were Macaulay Sinclair.
The new restaurant includes a ‘Permit Room’ cocktail bar, a mezzanine kitchen with balcony tables, and a Bombay-style juice bar.
Bombay’s Irani cafés welcomed all – rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas, poor students, families and courting couples. They began as bakeries and tea-shops set up by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran around the turn of the last century. Open all day, every day, democratic and affordable, they faithfully served the community. But from almost four hundred at their peak in the 1960s, now fewer than 30 remain – their faded elegance engulfed by India’s appetite for modernity.
Dishoom draws on the heritage of these cafés, and their all-day menu pays homage to the food of Bombay.
Dishoom founders Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar,and designers Macaulay Sinclair spent many days in Bombay returning to the remaining Irani cafés, researching the Bombay of the late 19th and early 20th century, and understanding the design and architecture of places that would have set the tone of 1920s Bombay – such as the Western Railway Offices, The Willingdon Club, the Ripon Club and of course, the various stations in Bombay including Victoria Terminus. They also sourced over 100 pieces of antique furniture from the period in Bombay, and have restored them for use in the Godown.
‘Godown’ is an old Indian word – meaning warehouse – and refers to the café’s location within the Western Transit Shed next to Granary Square, which was once an interchange for vast quantities of goods arriving and departing via rail, road and canal.
Macaulay Sinclair commissioned Noble Russell to manufacture bespoke tables for the new Dishoom, with these being designed to reflect the heritage of the Irani cafes. Having previously worked on the Dishoom Shoreditch café, Noble Russell were delighted to be involved with their latest venue.
Working closely with Macaulay Sinclair, Noble Russell went through several design processes to achieve the client’s desired finish for the furniture.
The café tables were manufactured with a mixture of solid sapele tops, some inlaid with bianco carrara and nero marquina marble. Also included were the signature Dishoom tables comprising of ‘gingham fabric’ sealed with glass surrounded by sapele lipping.
Five high ‘poser’ tables were commissioned, also in a mixture solid sapele with marble tops. As well as the main café tables, Noble Russell manufactured two ‘chef’s tables’ for the private dining mezzanine area. These were constructed in solid timber with a high gloss black finish, hand turned legs and topped with bianco carrara marble inlaid with brass detail. The project even included the exterior tables, which were constructed in solid iroko.
Ian Roome of Macaulay Sinclair, commented:
“Noble Russell were selected for this challenging site based on our excellent working relationship. The whole process from sampling and detail drawings through to delivery and installation was exceptional and they continue to fulfil our expectations.”
Other distinctive design elements of the new Dishoom include the drooping wires of the pendant lights, which further evoke a mid-20th century Bombay (wiring always an afterthought). A Bombayite might recognise the large art deco clock as a close replica of the one in Victoria Terminus (Bombay’s version of St. Pancras).
The sign of rules by the door is a reference to the rules at Café Bastani, which closed in the 1990s. The vintage Indian toiletries in the washroom medicine cabinets have an innocent charm. The art deco detail on the screens downstairs evokes the balconies on the city’s apartment blocks, while the Gola machine on the bar brings back childhood memories of crushed ice treats on Chowpatty Beach.
As ever, the Dishoom kitchen – on a platform above the ground floor – will be open every day from early morning until late, serving Executive Chef Naved Nasir’s popular breakfast menu, followed by the all-day menu of small plates, grills, biryanis, salad plates, rolls and curries. Dishoom King’s Cross will also be home to a special dish, signature to this restaurant only.
The basement of the site is dedicated to the Permit Room – Dishoom’s vision of an eccentric early 20th century bar in Bombay. Daru-walla Carl Brown recently won the Young British Foodie’s drinks category with his drinks for King’s Cross: a selection of cocktails which are first aged in bottles or barrels, then served over chipped ice by the ‘chota peg’ or ‘burra peg’ (traditional Indian liquor measures).
And for the first time, Dishoom will be serving beer on tap. They are working with London Fields Brewery on a selection of cask ales and bottled beers, along with their existing Dishoom IPA, which is created especially for Dishoom by London Fields.
The juice bar on the ground floor will serve freshly pressed juices throughout the day, including fresh sugar cane juice and sugar cane cocktails.
In total, Dishoom King’s Cross has 250 dining covers, with a further 90 in the Permit Room bar. It will provide a comfortable all-day space where the local community and visitors from farther afield can meet, eat, drink, chat, linger, work, study or read; a place where all will be welcomed with Dishoom’s customary warmth.
Shamil Thakrar and Kavi Thakrar feel that King’s Cross is the perfect location for the new restaurant. They love what’s going on in the area – the thoughtful restoration of iconic old buildings, the sense of history, the shared spaces, the focus on arts and culture, and the social initiatives.
They say that over recent years London’s prosperity has increased (and will continue to increase) and this wealth has bought a lot of exclusive new spaces. However, for a city to truly thrive, there is a need shared democratic spaces such as King’s Cross in which all kinds of people of can mingle, stroll and see free art and play in the fountains and – if they like – have a bite to eat in a nice comfortable place that doesn’t cost the earth and isn’t booked up for months in advance.
Dishoom was delighted to move into the new King’s Cross development and to continue to explore the historical links between London and Bombay, the industrial hubs of the east and west. (Indeed, London’s St. Pancras station and Bombay’s Victoria Terminus look very much like cousins!)
Speaking of this latest addition to the Dishoom family, Shamil Thakrar said:
“We’re so pleased with this iconic development at King’s Cross and our new restaurant is as unique as the environment that we have moved into.”
Jessica Marsden-Smedley, Argent LLP (asset manager for King’s Cross), said:
“We are delighted to be working with Dishoom in one of the most wonderful and unique spaces within the heritage heart of King’s Cross. The Dishoom team brings a passion for food and culture: the perfect partner to bring the Stables unit to life.”
Dishoom King’s Cross is the third addition to the Dishoom family, joining their other cafés in Shoreditch and Covent Garden.
Interiors UK Ltd
Interiors UK Ltd is a specialist national interior contractor for the leisure and hospitality industry. The company has been trading for ten years and has worked with many repeat clients, including Dishoom, The Restaurant Group, Gondola Group, Jamie Oliver, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Tragus, Yo Sushi, Giraffe, Five Guys, AB Hotels and Las Iguanas.
Working on Dishoom King’s Cross, Interiors UK Ltd delivered the complete interior fit works. The work excluded catering, mechanical and electrical works however Interiors UK did co-ordinate this aspect of the project. The company also carried out all building works, including the construction of the mezzanine floor and roof trusses.
Angus Gregory, Managing Director for Interiors UK Ltd, said:
“We always try to get a good relationship with the designer and his team to ensure we understand their thought processes to enable us to deliver to both their and the client’s expectations.
“For all at Interiors UK it is a privilege to have been given the opportunity to build another important site for all at Dishoom. It gave us an opportunity to show just what we are capable of.”
“At Interiors UK we pride ourselves in keeping clients happy by focusing on costs, quality, health and safety and delivering on time. It is this focus that allows us to keep building new clients whilst maintaining existing clients, such as Dishoom.”
Superior Stone Ltd
Superior Stone Ltd specialises in high-end marble work for the construction industry. The company works on residential, office and commercial projects, including hotels and restaurants and has been in operation for 14 years.
Superior Stone Ltd has both the experience and equipment to produce very complex moulds and shapes in natural stone and most, if not all, the company’s business comes from recommendations or from repeat customers. Past projects include, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, various Pizza Expresses and the Berners Hotel.
Superior Stone was responsible for all the marble and stone works on the Spring project at Somerset House, as well as at Dishoom in King’s Cross.
Andy Thomas, Superior Stone Ltd, said:
“We are very grateful to be working on such prestigious works. We have previously carried out numerous works with Goodman Hitchens, who are a very specialist shopfitter.
“We have also have a long working relationship with Interiors UK and have carried out many contracts with them. We have great respect for both companies.”