CITYLIFELOCAL AL­WAYS ROOM FOR LIKES OF DISHOOM

SNEAK PEEK AT THE IRANI-IN­DIAN RESTAU­RANT OPEN­ING LATER THIS YEAR

Glossop Advertiser - - City Life Local - Emily He­ward

SOME came and con­quered. Oth­ers, giddy on north­ern prop­erty prices and ag­gran­di­s­a­tion, opened lu­di­crously large sites they strug­gled to fill and slunk back down south, tail be­tween their legs.

Run­ning suc­cess­ful restau­rants in Lon­don is no guar­an­tee of mak­ing it in Manch­ester, as many op­er­a­tors have learned, to their cha­grin. The best, like Hawksmoor, came with hu­mil­ity and re­spect for the city they were try­ing to crack. Dishoom looks set to fall into the same camp when it opens in Manch­ester Hall this win­ter.

“We’re al­ways ner­vous go­ing to a city we’re not from,” co-founder Kavi Thakrar ad­mits when I meet him in Lon­don to get a flavour of the plans for Manch­ester.

“But we’re con­fi­dent in the way we do things, the way we look af­ter our team and our cus­tomers, and the qual­ity of our food and drink and en­vi­ron­ments. All we can hope is peo­ple en­joy it.”

Founded in Covent Gar­den in 2010, the Irani-In­dian restau­rant group now has five sites across Lon­don and one in Ed­in­burgh, cater­ing to 45,000 din­ers ev­ery week. Its Manch­ester restau­rant will oc­cupy part of the grand old Freema­son’s Hall on Bridge Street, mar­ry­ing its grade II listed

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Its foot­print in­cludes the lodge’s grand Derby Room, where orig­i­nal fea­tures in­clud­ing the par­quet floors and stained glass win­dows will be pre­served and re­stored.

Re­spect­ful of the build­ing’s her­itage, the team car­ried out sev­eral trips to Mum­bai to re­search the city’s own links with Freema­sonry to in­form the in­te­rior de­sign.

They brought back with them fur­nish­ings in­clud­ing an an­tique no­tice board that will sit be­hind the re­cep­tion desk in the lobby, as well as repur­pos­ing chairs found in­side the Bridge Street build­ing.

“We in­her­ited a re­ally beau­ti­ful room at the back, in the Derby Room, and we’ve brought that back to life,” he says.

“We’re restor­ing a lot of the orig­i­nal fea­tures - its beau­ti­ful par­quet floors and stained glass win­dows - but then in­tro­duc­ing this lay­er­ing of Bom­bay into it to bring into this space the feel­ing of the Irani cafes.”

Opened by Zoroas­trian im­mi­grants from Iran in the early part of the last cen­tury, the cafes soon be­came part of the fab­ric of life in the In­dian city and wel­comed peo­ple from all walks of life. There were al­most 400 at the peak of their pop­u­lar­ity in the 1960s; fewer than 30 are now said to re­main.

“We stum­bled across these pieces of her­itage, which were a demo­cratic, shared din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and it felt so com­fort­able to us,” says Kavi.

“That’s our ap­proach. We felt, why don’t we cre­ate this fan­tas­tic, demo­cratic, shared so­cial space to the English and bring peo­ple the food of the city?” The menu mixes up tra­di­tional Ira­nian and In­dian dishes with Dishoom’s own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Bri­tish dishes like its fa­mous ba­con naan - rash­ers of smoked, streaky ba­con rolled in a baked-to-or­der naan with chilli jam and cream cheese.

“We thought what would hap­pen if an Irani cafe opened in Lon­don? You’d want to lo­calise, and we all love a ba­con sand­wich - those of us that eat ba­con - and we thought that’s a re­ally lovely thing that an Irani cafe owner might put on his menu if he opened in Lon­don,” says Kavi. 0161 330 1133

Served from 8am on week­days and 9am at week­ends, the break­fast menu also in­cludes dishes such as ker­jri­wal (fried eggs on chilli cheese toast), akuri (spiced scram­bled eggs with grilled toma­toes and home-made buns) and bot­tom­less ba­nana and date por­ridge, along with cof­fee, tea, chai, fresh juices and brunch cock­tails. Later in the day the menu in­cludes ir­re­sistibly crunchy prawn koli­wada, dunked in sticky date and tamarind chut­ney; pau bhaji, a hang­over-slay­ing bowl of spicy veg­etable mash with a hot, but­tered bun; lamb chops mar­i­nated in lime juice, jag­gery, ginger, gar­lic and spices; and but­tery gun­pow­der pota­toes crusted with fen­nel, co­rian­der and cumin seeds, and tossed with green chilli, co­rian­der and spring onions; plus birya­nis and a hand­ful of ‘ruby mur­rays’.

It’s food peo­ple of­ten queue for over an hour to get their hands on in Lon­don; a ‘hum­bling’ sight for ex­ec­u­tive head chef Naved Nasir - and a chal­lenge too.

“It’s dou­ble the amount of pres­sure,” he says. “Peo­ple who have been queue­ing aren’t go­ing to be for­giv­ing.”

So will the queues fol­low them to Manch­ester? In­de­pen­dent gems like Rudy’s Neapoli­tan Pizza and Pollen Bak­ery have proved we’re will­ing to wait for good food.

Hap­pily, din­ers will be able to do so in the restau­rant’s own bar, named the Per­mit Room af­ter the law brought in with the Bom­bay Pro­hi­bi­tion Act in 1949 (and never of­fi­cially re­pealed) that drinkers must have a li­cence to buy liquor. Fit­tingly there’s a range of con­vinc­ing, grown-up mock­tails - the Dry Mon­soon Mar­tini, a sober spin on an espresso mar­tini, nearly had us fooled - along­side clas­sic cock­tails like gim­lets, old fash­ioneds and ne­gro­nis with an In­dian twist.

An open­ing date for the restau­rant and bar has yet to be con­firmed, but the team is aim­ing for a win­ter launch around Novem­ber or De­cem­ber time. www.world­wide­trav­elplan.co.uk

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