DISHOOM TO LAUNCH PERMIT ROOM, AN ALL-DAY BAR CAFE IN BRIGHTON
This November, Permit Room will open in Brighton, an all-day bar-café taking its influence from the permit rooms of 1960s and 1970s Bombay. The Permit Room will showcase an all-new food menu offering seriously good bar snacks, moreish curries and some larger plates – plus a few choice favourites from the original Dishoom menu. Very much as important as the food is the completely new cocktail and drinks list, taking its cues from the colourful history of drinking in Bombay. Plus, the team will serve you breakfast the next day when heads might be feeling sore!
Heritage: Bombay’s Permit Rooms
In 1949, the Bombay Prohibition act was passed by politicians flush with post-independence Gandhian fervour, and banned the sale of all liquor (including cough syrup, to begin with). And yet, the law couldn’t keep enterprising citizens away from their spirits. Bombayites found ways to continue drinking; resourceful Goan Catholic Aunties even started serving liquor secretly in their front rooms, paying hafta (bribes) to the police as needed. Eventually though, through the 1960s and 1970s the law was relaxed and you now could drink, albeit only if you held a Permit. The Permit Room of Bombay was thus born.
Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Permit Room & Dishoom says: “We’ve been going to Bombay for decades now, and have had many a merry time in permit rooms whilst on our travels – hours have been spent with friends huddled over chakli and chilli chips (food is always at the centre of the table in permit rooms!), all washed down with ice cold beers or Old Monk and Thums Up. It was clearly about time we put those late nights to good use.”
Permit Room Food
More than half of the dishes on the Permit Room’s all day menu are vegetarian or vegan across Bar Snacks, Chaats, Patties & Salads, Ruby Murray & Permit Specials as well as Sweet Things, and no red meat will feature. The bar-café will also be open for those in need of breakfast, serving Naan Rolls, great coffee, piping hot chai and fresh juices, Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
Menu highlights (of which all are new dishes) include;
Chakli (£3.20) & Peanut Masala (£3.70)
No Bombay permit room menu is complete without these snacks: crunchy Chakli with fried spiced flours of rice and gram, and the fresh and zingy Peanut Masala – roasted peanuts tossed with tomato, onion, coriander, chilli, and lime.
Aunty’s Makli Fry (£7.50)
Aunty’s Anda (Egg) Curry (£11.50)
These dishes are a tribute to the infamous bootlegging Aunty Bars across the city: Makli Fry - marinated mini squid, and a very traditional curry of boiled eggs hidden in a rich dark tomato sauce. (In Bombay, if you see the boiled-egg vendor, there may be an Aunty Bar nearby!)
Crispy Spinach Chaat (£8.50)
Crispy-fried babyleaf spinach with yoghurt, chutneys, spices, seeds, sev and fresh pomegranate. A light and tangy delicacy for the perfect drinking accompaniment.
Half / Whole Chicken Tandoori (£12/£23)
Enjoyed across all of Bombay and the majority of permit rooms. This spatchcock chicken is marinated before being chargrilled; moreish and packing a punch, it is served with fresh kachumber salad and a tangy green chutney. Ideal for sharing.
In the Sweet Things part of the menu, guests will find playful twists on nostalgic classics including (Orange Blossom) Jelly and (Strawberry) Ice Cream, Coconut Caramel Custard, as well as a selection of ice cream sandwiches inspired by K. Rustom & Company in Bombay – certified seaside.
Permit Room Cocktails & Drinks
Permit Room’s drinks offering takes cues from the colourful history of drinking in Bombay across each of the menu’s categories: Highballs, On the Rocks, Twisted Classics, Short & Boozy, Frozen Lipsters, Morning Glories and the non-alcoholic Teetotal.
Menu highlights include;
Aunty’s Anjeer Manhattan (£12.50)
A nod to the clandestine ‘Aunty Bars’, which existed before permits were available for Permit Rooms. The term ‘aunty’ was coined as the endearing term for a loved one in India and the bars were often hosted in people’s homes.
Feni Martini (£12.50)
Using the heritage spirit of India, Feni - made from fermented cashew apples, this spirit was hand-crafted and bootlegged into towns during the era of the Aunty Bars and Permit Rooms and continues to be used today. Feni gives a fruity and earthy twist to the classic Martini.
Mango Lassi Punch (£10.50)
Inspired by the popular Indian drink of the same name, this balanced and clarified cocktail is made using Old Monk Rum (a Bombay favourite), yoghurt and spicy mango syrup.
Thums Up Sazerac (£12.50)
This unique twist on the classic New Orleans cocktail pays tribute to the much-loved Indian soft drink, Thums Up. Thums Up is part of the DNA of Bombay, evoking nostalgia for delighted Desis and non-Desi friends alike.
Chai Caffè Martini (£11.50)
A take on the classic Espresso Martini – banana rum, coffee and crema (foam), with the addition of traditional Indian chai spices for a warming finish.
Brighton collaborations are integral to this neighbourhood hangout. On the drinks list, an exclusive Permit Room ‘Pineapple and Black Pepper Crumble’ sour beer is in partnership with local brewery, UnBarred Brewery; an enjoyably tart serve, with flavours of pineapple, cinnamon and notes of vanilla. The menu will also feature a beer in collaboration with Hand Co Brewery; a dry but fruity peach lager. Other local suppliers will include: Tigermoth Coffee Roasters, Goldstone Rum, Madam Jennifer Distillery, Boho Gelato and many more to come.
Kingfisher, the Permit Room Sour and Dishoom’s IPA will be served on tap, alongside a variety of bottles and cans, while the wine list will offer a natural, low-intervention and biodynamic selection.
Weekly DJ Sessions: Permit Room x Going South
Permit Room will open with a live music residency in partnership with Going South – a platform for thriving British South Asian talent, bringing the best of British brown excellence in music together, spearheaded by DJ and presenter Bobby Friction. With sets occurring weekly on Thursday evenings, DJs will range from the very best rising talent to more established names, from across Brighton and beyond. A programme of DJ appearances will be announced over the coming months.
The bar-café’s relaxed, retro interiors will be complemented by artwork by Bombayites, Brightonians and young Indian artists, and an eclectic playlist fusing Bombay to New York via funk, punk, hip-hop, disco and soul.
Permit Room will be launching this November, with more details to come.
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