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Permit Room, A Moda recommendation

04 / 06 / 2024

One of the latest additions to Brighton’s vibrant food and drink scene is the freshly-unveiled Permit Room. Nestled on the edge of Brighton’s infamous Lanes, Permit Room is a spin-off from restaurant group Dishoom, offering some of what we already know and love, along with something a little different.

The name itself pays homage to the historic permit rooms of Bombay which were created in response to the ‘Bombay Prohibition Act’ banning alcohol in the city in the mid 20th century. When regulations eased in 1970, liquor permits granted access to alcohol. And so, Permit Rooms were born. The name has already been used for the bar areas within other Dishoom sites, but this Brighton gem marks the first standalone Permit Room.


So, what sets Permit Room apart? Labelled as an all-day bar café, Permit Room is open from 8am till late (9am on weekends), catering to breakfasts, lunch, snacks, drinks and dinner. Whether it’s kicking off your day with a bacon naan roll and a piping hot chai, diving into a range of fresh salads and chaats for lunch, rounding it off with hearty curries, or perhaps it’s simply snacks with a cocktail or biodynamic wine, Permit Room beckons. Predominantly reserved for walk-ins, a few tables are available to book in advance.

Inside the traditional old building, it’s cosy and dimly-lit, with decor that echoes the opulent mid-century style that Dishoom is known for. We’re talking dark wood panelling, patterned wallpaper and tiling, dotted with artwork through, and a mix of plush fabric and leather seating.

Arriving on a busy Friday night, the restaurant was packed. Our table wasn’t quite ready, so we were invited to sit at a high table and grab a drink. The staff were all super friendly and very apologetic about the wait, but with a cocktail menu as strong as the one here, we were very happy to sit with a drink ahead of our meal.

A totally unique roll call of drinks, which includes twisted classics, short and boozy numbers, and plenty more. There’s even a great selection of ‘tee-total’ alcohol free cocktails, alongside lassis and softs. Opting for a Permit Room Old Fashioned and a Golden Foaming Fizzer, two whiskey-based drinks which go down very smoothly, alongside a portion of Chakli, addictive crisp snacks of rice and gram flour dunked in a tangy tomato chilli chutney.


Quite honestly, it’s the kind of place where you could order everything on the menu. As I read through the menu, I’m already looking forward to coming back with a larger group so I can do just that.

It’s only a matter of minutes before we are taken to our table. A cosy spot next to a large bay window, the perfect people watching spot as passersby wander through the narrow lanes.

We start with a couple of small plates, chicken pick-me-ups and magic masala whitebait. The chicken is oh so crispy and impossibly juicy, with a red chilli chutney sauce which was spicy and tangy and very moreish. The masala whitebait is delicious, too, if a little overshadowed for me by the chicken. But that says more about how much I love those pick-me-ups rather than anything else.

The decision for mains is tough, everything looks so good, and I have FOMO thinking about the dishes I might not have, but we eventually settle on the Half Chicken Tandoori, Jackfruit Berry Pulao, and — Dishoom classic — the Black Daal. Plus, a side of Crispy Spinach Chaat.

The chicken is beautifully spiced and wonderfully cooked, served with a blackened lemon, fresh tomato, cucumber and red onion salad and a tangy green chutney. The black daal is as rich and indulgent as ever, and I take great pleasure in spooning it over every other dish we ordered. The spinach chaat is also pretty special, crispy spinach leaves, doused in yoghurt, chutneys and spices, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It’s a delightful mix of flavours, temperatures and textures.

The unexpected winner for us is the jackfruit berry pulao. More than a simple rice dish, tender pieces of jackfruit are covered with a lid of fluffy saffron pulao rice, and bejewelled with sultanas and barberries. I haven’t had anything like that before and it was the perfect accompaniment to all our other dishes.

Forewarned by our server that this would be ‘quite a lot of food for two people’, we happily accepted the offer of a doggy bag for the leftovers. It isn’t so much food, though, that we can’t squeeze in a little pudding, so we punt for a rum-soaked gulab jamun. Sitting somewhere between a sponge and a dumpling, this delightful dessert is served warm and soaked generously in a decadent rum syrup. A perfect sweet to round off a really great meal.

There really wasn’t much to fault here at Permit Room. Each of the dishes was beautifully presented, reasonably priced, and — crucially — tasted great (still thinking about those chicken pick-me-ups). Despite what looked like a very busy night for the staff, the service was exceptional throughout, the servers were calm and chatty, striking that perfect balance between friendly, but not too overbearing.


Permit Room has that distinct flavour of Dishoom, but it’s very much its own beast with its laid back style and all-day offering. I’ll definitely be back early doors for a bacon naan roll.

Review by Maja Black

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