Gymkhana is a London restaurant inspired by Colonial Indian joints in Dehli and Mumbai, members clubs known as gymkhana clubs that were set up by the British Raj as places for the high society to socialise and dine. So when you enter the restaurant in Mayfair, an exclusive’s neighbourhood of London, you feel like stepping back to another time and place.
Gymkhana opened two years ago and was considered one of the greatest restaurant openings in 2013. The restaurant spreads over two floors (ground and lower ground), with one dining room, a bar and two alcoves reserved for private parties.
The interior design draws inspiration from colonial India with ceiling fans that hang from a dark-lacquered oak ceiling, Rajasthani glass wall lamps, coloured glass windows and marble tables. It’s elegant, intimate and conveys the exclusivity of old members’ clubs.
In 2014 Gymkhana won the National Restaurant awards as the best restaurant in Britain, an incredible achievement so such a young establishment. After tasting most of Gymkhana’s lunch menu, I can say I am not at all surprised by the awards and success of the restaurant. Everything from the setting and service to food and drinks was perfectly executed.
I was invited to lunch at Gymkhana last month as part of the Instagram Brunch Club which I co-founded with four friends and Instagrammers. We were treated to a set menu exclusively created for us and featuring Gymkhana’s signature dishes of contemporary Indian cuisine.
Here’s what we tasted (bear with me as there was a lot of food)!
Cassava, Lentil & Potato Papads, Shrimp Chutney & Mango Chutney; Masala Peanut & Lotus Root Chat.
Venison Keema Naan, Cucumber & Cumin Raita; Amritsari Shrimp & Queenies, Dill Chutney; Dosa, Chettinad Duck, Coconut Chutney; Gol Guppas, Jaljeera, Potato, Sprouting Moong.
Paneer Tikka, Cashew Nut, Coru Chat; Lamb Nalli Barra, Pickled Onion, Turmeric & Ginger.
Wild Rabbit Nihari and Aloo Curry. Chola Bhatura and Red Chilli Pickle. Served with Dal Maharani, Rakasthani Bhindi, Baingan Mirch Ka Salan and Indian bread basket.
Gymkhana’s signature dish: Wild Muntjac Biryani, Pomegranate & Mint Raita.
In between the tandoori and the biryani courses we took a break to order some drinks. Gymkhana specialises in classic Indian punches and a specialised gin and tonic list.
We tried the Bombay Presidency Punch, with Ceylon Arrack, palm sugar, lime juice, 2nd flush Darjeeling tea sealed in a 200ml bottle and served with a whole nutmeg and grater. It tasted delicious and it was fun mixing it at the table.
For dessert we tried the Strawberry Rabri, Mango Kheer, Saffron & Carrot Halwa.
Before ending the lunch with a glass of chai.
By the end of meal I was so ecstatic about Gymkhana that I made a booking to go back in August for my husband’s birthday! I am sure my husband will love the authentic Indian flavours of Gymkhana’s dishes.
Whether you are looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion or just to taste London’s best Indian food, I recommend you book a table at Gymkhana!
Disclaimer: I was a guest at the restaurant. All opinions are my own.