Diwana Bhel Poori House
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Fri Jan 29 2010
Diwana has been a Drummond Street fixture for time out of mind, drawing families from across the capital with its upbeat atmosphere and menu of south Indian vegetarian street food.
The bright interior is functional at best – its wooden panelling, pine tables and dog-eared, laminated menus more reminiscent of a mountain-top canteen than a reputable urban restaurant – but that only further emphasises the quality of the cooking. Bhel poori is the big draw, small plates of savoury snacks (including puffed pooris, samosas, dhals and chutneys), suitable as starters or, ordered in large enough quantities, a meal in themselves.
Those seeking more substantial feeding can opt for a crispy filled dosa or a vegetarian thali mixing rice with a variety of vegetable curries; there’s also a hearty lunch buffet for those less easily satisfied. Staff aren’t exactly renowned for dispensing pleasantries, but service is usually efficient enough.
Diwana Bhel Poori House 121-123 Drummond Street
- Venue phone:
020 7387 5556
- Opening hours:
Meals served noon-11pm daily.
Tube: Euston Square or Warren Street tube/Euston tube/rail
Set buffet lunch (noon-2.30pm) £6.95 (under-4s free; 4-7s half-price). Set thali £7.95-£8.95. Unlicensed. Corkage (before 10.30pm) no charge.
Diwana Bhel Poori House
- 121-123 Drummond Street
- 020 7387 5556
- 121-123 Drummond Street
- Diwana Bhel Poori House
Average User Rating
3.8 / 5
- 5 star:17
- 4 star:4
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:7
Listen, you don't go to Diwana for the service. You go for the buffet. That being said I've been going for years and they are always very nice to me. Maybe because I'm friendly and I tip :)
Keep in mind the chef for the ala carte is different than the one for the buffet. The menu can be hit or miss in my experience but the buffet is amongst the best Indian in London. It's even better than the Indian's in India do it accordingly to my mate who spends a great deal of time photographing over there. Go on Fridays as they offer Matar Paneer. Also, insider tip: skip everything before the pomopadoms. The real indian food starts afterwards.
I happened to eat here Wednesday evening and Thursday lunchtime - what a difference! Evening was just about OK, but the lunchtime buffet was just amazing - the best variety I've seen anywhere and the price just incredible. Re the poor comments below, I agree that the decor isn't anything to write home about but I found the waiters perfectly amiable. With such good food at this price in central London, who cares about plain wooden tables and (the rather unusual) metal plates? And there are obviously many other people in London who feel the same - there were queues to get in on both days. I'll definitely be back, possibly coming to London just for the day to do so (I'm based in Birmingham!).
I have been going to the Diwana for about forty years. The food is always great, the service welcoming and it is one of my favourite places to go in central London. The fact it is always packed with regulars says everything you need to know about. On top of which, everything is very reasonably priced. Don't be fooled into getting a starter each and a main - schoolboy error you'll be blown out. Worth popping to the nearby Exmouth Arms for a drink before or after or both. A friendly pub with good beer, a proper local in the middle of London
Steer clear! I'm all for roughage but went for the buffet & almost broke a tooth on a piece of gravel. The staff refused to discount. The bad service made you want to walk out, they then took ages getting the change- cynically, i thought, in the hope that we'd leave. Put me right off ever coming back and incited me and my partner in to arguing about whether to just walk out. I think a bad review and NEVER going back is just desserts.
Since its humble opening back in the day when good honest cooking was as common as a feather cut n flares, we have been frequenting Diwana's. This decade we have been back just three times, each time our disbelief has been matched by our disappointment - both escalated to the point that this group of loyal divotees have thrown in the hot towel. Agree with Ruby - rubbish. How can an Indian restaurant get some of the basics so badly wrong? Dhal - was truly dreadful, Tali a crushing let down. In general, we found that anything that came near oil, tasted rancid, anything one might expect to be crispy - e.g the bhel puri was stale. Oh dear, dont get me started on the service. Word on the street was that the previous owners sold out to a Bengali business man. Good luck to em dishing up rubbish to the tourists. Our top advice - walk on by.
Do not go here !!!!!!! Second time I went to diwana 's as first Time was a work leaving do ! I went here yesterday with a friend I hadn't seen for two years and we received the most appalling service. It was absolutely disgraceful. The man gestated us to sit a table with his fingers and when we got there , he said I said wait for two minutes. Then different ridiculously rude waiters started saying , we need to hurry up and order out mains as people are waiting to be seated. I was totally embarrassed and felt sick being there. It was a horrible experience. I found a hair in my starter which my friend firmly said I should complain about , but I left it thinking it would make things unpleasant. But what followed was unplenstries galore. When we left the waiters were so nasty they didn't even say bye or smile. There are many other street food restaurants in central London , plenty in drummunds street. There is beautiful authentic South Indian restaurant called Ragam in Tottenham court road. I am South Indian and the food in diwanas is not South Indian , it's make do. The starters are good. Mains are just about make do.
Without exaggeration the BEST Bhel Poori in the world - I've been to Chowpatty beach in Bombay & this blows the socks off it. Fantastic Dosas & other goodies too. Yup Staff aren't cheerful - probably because the management take the added on Service Charge for themselves & give them none of it.. I always ask them to take the Service Charge OFF the bill & then give them a tip.
If I could choose to eat any meal at any restaurant in the world I'd come here for the lunchtime buffet. Granted, the decor is nothing to write home about and the staff always seem to be in a hurry. But the food is delicious, unlimited and it costs 7 quid. What's not to love?
a lot of negative comments probably form other rival restaurants! All you have to do is see how busy it is compared to the other restaurants in the area
i cant understand the negative comments. this is simply the best quality vegetarian buffet you will get anywhere if you love south asian food. Yes, the food is spicy but no one can accuse if of being dull or boring. All my asian and white friends ive taken there adore it too
Reposting my review as my previous review has 4 starts by mistake. This place does not deserve even one star! I went there for the buffet during lunch time. The service was horrible. The staff are uncivilised villagers from god knows where! Ten minutes into my meal I noticed that half the dishes on the buffet were empty. On asking the waiters if they would be refilled he replied that he "did not know"!!! I walked upto a guy that I thought was the manager (behond the counter) who later turned out to be the cashier to ask the same and he said they were clearing the buffet so "it was time to leave". They should not have seated us if they did not intend to serve us all the dishes in the buffet. The last time I checked you could have multiple servings at a buffet. Before I left I told the cashier that I would write a terrible review and he said that was fine and I should send him a copy!!! After our meal which was anyway incomplete as the buffet was half empty, we had to wait for 15 minutes and ask for our bill thrice. There are far better Indian restaurants in London and I would not waste time and money here again. The food was nothing great. The chapattis (Indian flat breads) were quite clearly from a packet. Clearly this place is run by a bunch a incompetent ... Well I was going to type apes but I think apes could do better .
Aghast with disbelief at reports of indifferent service. THE indispensable vegetarian nosh-spot as far as we are concerned. Food SO good and personnel seemed to appreciate being treated like human beings. We definitely and systematically call in as often as possible (from the south of France that's not very often) for some seriously fragrant and heart-warming chomp. Thanks to all involved, gBass.
The food was okie but their service was so so so horrible. The man dressed in blue shirt was so rude. They have included service charge in the bill, but they are hopeless in that department. I WILLL NEVER GO THERE AGAIN. Def recommended Ravi Shankar.
I've been going here for several years. Very good and quite cheap vegetarian food, especially the buffet. The service might not be the most friendly, but the equality of food makes up for that. Having spent a few months in the south of India recently, I was interested to see how this place compared and I was pleasantly pleased.
Fantastic food and very good value too. We've been eating here since the 70s and have often taken friends along. They've always loved it too. The lunchtime buffet is excellent - varied, tasy and beautifully presented. I only wish they carried on after 2,30. A la carte at other times is very good too.
I keep coming back to their lunch time buffet - Really love the food, great service and is reasonably priced! Would definitely recommend this place, especially the lunch time buffet.
Only people who will enjoy food like this will be the ones who knows nothing about south Indian food, Very dissapointing meal.
Had eaten here twenty years ago when I was a student. While visiting London with French friends managed to find it again and was happy to say it was still the same. The staff were friendly and the food VERY tasty, and inexpensive. No frills but a lovely evening out. Fully recommend it.
Loved this place so much I ended up eating there twice in two days! Great food, really friendly service & amazing value. I'd never eaten Bhel Poori before so was great to be able to try that and BYOB is always preferable to tasteless largers or cheap wine plus I always prefer an established place with character over a formulaic chain....
Can't complain about anything. The food is fantastic every time. Staff always very pleasant and helpful. Prices bargainous. Wish i could stay and graze all night.
Being indians ourselves we were excited to find this new place to eat out on a Sunday eve. But soon felt extremely disappointing. Very very average food, very very oily and very highly priced. Would never go there again.
We ate here last week and were really impressed by the range, quality and price of the food. The atmosphere was very nice and there was no superficial facade to the place. Our friend has been eating there since the 70s and we went on his recommendation. As a result we hope to eat there as long too!