Dishoom Opens in Edinburgh

Our dear friend Meher Marfatia informs us about the opening of Dishoom’s first outpost in Edinburgh.

Meher writes…

The sparkling thespian actors of my Laughter in the House are gracing the walls of a leading new restaurant opening in Edinburgh next Sunday the 5th!! What’s more, they are a permanent decor component and not just an opening night gimmick.

Dishoom, the eclectic Bombay Café in St Martin’s Lane at Covent Garden and at 3 other London locations, now opens in Edinburgh this week. In line with the London outlets’ focus on an India and Mumbai Irani cafes connect, this new one in Edinburgh is focused on Parsi Theatre. The owners commissioned me to curate the Parsi Theatre visuals on the walls of the restaurant, the write-ups & blogs, the Parsi Theatre bar menu, etc based on my Parsi Theatre book which they spotted in London a couple of years ago.

Curiously named drinks at Permit Room in Edinburgh that are worth trying

By Benita Fernando | Mid-day

The new Edinburgh outpost of Dishoom is homage to Parsi theatre and a Scot who loved Mumbai’s libraries

20Dishoom-Edinburgh-render_thumbThe first floor of Dishoom’s new Edinburgh space is inspired by Mumbai’s historical reading rooms and libraries. The green windows draw from the architecture of the David Sassoon Library in Kala Ghoda. Pics/Dishoom

If you are in Edinburgh next month, try the curiously named drinks at Permit Room, the basement bar housed in Dishoom’s latest branch. The Horniman’s Old Fashioned, for instance, is made of smoked oak barrel rum, pineapple syrup and bitters and we are warned that excessive consumption could lead to “lack of censorship, inflammatory statements and, ultimately, deportation”. Christened after the noted editor of the Bombay Chronicle, Benjamin Guy Horniman, the tipple is joined by the Pila House Sling, Marzban’s Fizz and Tehmul’s Tangle.

A vintage poster of a parody of Hamlet is part of the Permit Room menu. Pic/Meher marfatia/laughter in the house: 20th-Century Parsi Theatre

Since its first outlet in Covent Garden in 2010, Dishoom has seen three more outlets in London — Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Carnaby. With its modern twist on Indian dishes, Dishoom was co-founded by Shamil and Kavi Thakrar and Amar and Adarsh Radia. The new Edinburgh outpost — the first away from London — is concocted from Parsi theatre, Mumbai’s libraries and Irani cafés. These may seem like disjointed — and delicious — bits of aamchi Mumbai that have been teleported to the Scottish capital, but the story of Dishoom is the story of Sir Patrick Geddes and everything that he loved. “Geddes was a great chap — a Scottish botanist, sociologist, town planner and an all-round man of the people,” says co-founder Shamil Thakrar. Geddes —Dishoom’s Edinburgh mascot and connecting link across continents — spent many years in Mumbai in the early 1900s, making friends like Horniman and frequenting reading rooms, theatres and cafés.

Meet the hero
“We made Geddes the protagonist of our story, which finds him in the JN Petit Library and then follows him to Kyani and Co,” says Shamil. Geddes’ work improvised living conditions in Edinburgh’s Old Town led him to Bombay in 1915, produced plans for fifty of India’s cities and founded the department of Sociology and Civics at the Bombay University. The interiors of the restaurant are set to seduce diners with Geddes’ love for libraries.

Shamil and Kavi along with designers, Macaulay Sinclair, researched libraries and reading rooms in Mumbai, the kind of places that Geddes would have frequented, such as the David Sassoon Library, People’s Free Reading Room and the JN Petit Library. The David Sassoon Library’s signage and green glass windows are referenced in the restaurant’s counterparts. Other elements that create the feel of a reading room in Dishoom such as books, vintage maps from the 1920s and reading lights have been brought in. “We spent a lot of time at the National Library of Edinburgh and saw their collection of artefacts that had actually belonged to Geddes, which date from his time in Edinburgh and in India — including letters between him and Gandhi. [Author] Naresh Fernandes and [Mumbai chronicler] Simin Patel also helped with ferreting out news articles on Geddes from the early 20th century,” says Shamil.

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