Dishoom are opening a fifth branch of their Bombay-influenced ‘Irani cafes’ in Kensington. There, they will honour two of Bombay’s cultural traditions: Art Deco and jazz.
They will open on Derry Street, just off High Street Kensington, in late 2017, in the Barkers building. Whole Foods also occupy part of the building. The building itself is known for its distinctive Art Deco architecture. It will be the group’s first restaurant in west London, adding to their portfolio which includes locations in Covent Garden, Soho, Shoreditch and King’s Cross.
The restaurant will accommodate 200 with a further 50 covers in the Permit Room bar. The restaurant will be open all day, seven days a week, and will serve executive chef Naved Nasir’s menus of Bombay comfort food. Dishoom trademarks, such as the bacon naan roll for breakfast followed by the all-day menu of small plates, grills, biryanis, salad plates, rolls and curries, will appear. Like the other cafés, there will be a new, as yet undecided, signature dish. The Permit Room bar will serve a “list of delicious and sincere tipples as well as some brand-new cocktails,” they say.
Shamil Thakrar, one of Dishoom’s co-founders told Eater London: “The Barkers building is an incredibly beautiful example of Art Deco, and we couldn’t have wished for a better place to share two particularly awesome aspects of 1940s Bombay: Art Deco and jazz. I’ve always loved the very specific style of Art Deco that you find in Bombay, and — as a massive jazz nerd — I was delighted when our good friend Naresh Fernandes wrote the book on Bombay’s golden age of jazz, Taj Mahal Foxtrot. Dishoom Kensington will share some of these stories.”
Fernandes book, which tells the story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, was a great source of inspiration for the new project. “Jazz made its way to Bombay from New Orleans in the 1920s via touring American jazz bands. Groups of swinging jazzmen opened Bombay’s ears to new sounds and by the 1940s ‘hot jazz’ was everywhere. It was the golden age of jazz in Bombay,” Dishoom’s owners said.
As has become customary, the Dishoom team, including Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, visited all the remaining Irani cafés in Bombay, meeting the owners, and “spending time sourcing furniture and artefacts from the era,” ahead of this opening. The Thakrars have worked closely with architects Macaulay Sinclair on the design for the new restaurant.
The Art Deco style first made the journey to India from the west in the early 1930s; and Bombay was quick to adopt the culture. By the 1940s, Bombay’s architects and designers had redefined European and American Deco in an Indian style, which combined classic motifs with their a unique and local character. “Bombay Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, and innovation as it might have done in the west, but it also became a way for proud Bombayites to articulate a growing consciousness of their own national identity in the years before and after Indian Independence. Art Deco became so popular in Bombay that the city remains one of the biggest and best examples in the world of the style, second only to Miami,” Dishoom told Eater London.
Check back for an update on the exact opening date soon.
The Barkers Building, 63-97 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SE