Squirreled away down a set of bright blue stairs, flanked by an (almost convincing) living wall of green is Soho secret DUM Biryani.
Since launching its new menu at the end of March this cosy restaurant, first opened in October 2016, has recently found itself a new following.
Culinary baby of executive chef Dhruv Mittal, DUM draws inspiration from Indian street food, Hydrebadi Byriani and Telugu cuisine.
Starters are composed of snacking dishes that include Kodi Vepudu hot (yes really hot!) and sour chicken wings, Dahi Kebab, Tamatar Pachadi (fried yoghurt patties), and Andhra (King) Prawn Fry.
The main stay of this place is, of course, the Dum Biryani – served with pastry toppers that balloon like culinary clouds above their more meaty, rice and egg infused chicken or lamb foundations.
They are so called for the way in which they are cooked and one pot is probably enough to share between two if you’re not too peckish with a couple of snacks.
The night we dined there was also a Chapala Pulusu (a Cornish hake fish curry) on offer – one of a few changing daily specials.
Desserts are a just as flavourful finish to the rest of the menu. Go for the delicious Sheer Khurma – a milk pudding with saffron and roasted nuts.
A short list of wine and spirits is offered alongside a more eclectic array of cocktails – each with their own quirky names, concocted by Dhruv himself in homage to his own heritage and history.
Try the Gande Sapne that uses vodka plus cardamom, sesame seeds and coffee liqueur – we are told its name means ‘wet dreams’.
Aside from the cooking, my favourite thing about this place is the flushes of colour in the decor, in the cocktails, and throughout the diners who sit next to us.
Cool establishment-appropriate Pop Art decorates the walls, while big mirrors suggest we are perhaps even alfresco, or somewhere more exotic.
Despite the basement location, what results is a space that is bright, airy, informal and inspired. This is a house full of personality, not just Biryani.