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Gymkhana [London]

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I was thinking about adding this to the Trishna tread but I thought it deserved one of its own. I know some others on the board as well as I enjoy Trishna, so if you don’t know already it is exciting to see that Karam Sethi has set up a new restaurant in Mayfair.

The place is called Gymkhana’s and the name and décor are inspired by gentlemen’s clubs in India during the days of the Raj. The food here is more meat originated than Trishna and it even offers a 5 course game tasting menu; which for anyone that has enjoyed game in Trishna may sound tempting.

I had a top drawer meal here last night and would say that at it is at least as good as its sister restaurant, if not better! If you are interested, please find a full review with photos on my blog: http://restaurantsandrants.wordpress....

Cheers

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  1. I went there a couple of weeks ago for a group meal with some colleagues.

    We were in the private basement dining room which I wouldn't recommend -- very cold and dark in the style of a dungeon not a romantic corner. The main restaurant looked very attractive though.

    The food was excellent. What I loved was inventive use of different meats including pheasant, partridge, muntjac, suckling pig.

    Thought the Wild Muntjac Biryani and the Gilafi Pheasant
    Seekh Kebab were particularly excellent. The Suckling Pig Vindaloo was great, though one member of the group couldn't get over the fact it wasn't blow-your-head-off hot like curry from a curry house.

    Veggie dishes were perfectly decent but didn't excite or innovate like the meat ones, so it's not somewhere I'd recommend to vegetarians.

    1. I actually went there for a second time on Tuesday and had just put up a blog post about it this morning so I will also share it below. We had the game menu this time so I agree that the meat dishes are particularly strong here.

      See photos here: http://restaurantsandrants.wordpress....

      We finally made it back to Gymkhana and we had the game tasting menu which had looked so appetising the first time. This time we were seated in the downstairs room which was cosy on a winter’s day but to say the light was limited would be an understatement, it is dark down there! So if you have problems reading menus in poor light, I would request an upstairs table or alternatively just go for one of their tasting menus and forget about straining to access the merits of various dishes.

      The meal started with some poppadums served along with our drinks. We almost talked ourselves out from ordering the game menu but in the end we went for it; it is 5 courses for £65 including various sides. An unadvertised Potato Chat, Chickpeas, Tamarind, Sev then turned up as a sort of A.B. This was very good with plenty of heat and a nice sweet and sourness.

      The first proper course of Partridge Pepper Fry was top drawer, containing tender meat with excellent spicing. This also came with a piece each of pancake-like bread, which was a nice side. Gilafi Pheasant Seekh Kebabs, Pickled Green Chilli Chutney were perhaps even better than the first time we had them; being very moist.

      Achari Wild Roe Deer, Mooli Pickle, Roe Deer Keema Naan was an truly excellent dish, the deer had been marinated deeply, giving it tons of flavour and it was cooked perfectly rare. The side of pickled white radish helped add a contrast to the richness of the meat. The dear keema naan was nice but it was probably not needed, maybe plain bread would have been better as this was slight meat overkill.

      The final savoury course consisted of Wild Muntjac Biryani with a Pomegranate and Mint Raita, served with Dal Maharani & Khati Meethi Baby Aubergine, and a Bread Basket. The aubergine was nice but unremarkable, while the dal was a pretty good example. The main event of biryani had well balanced flavours and for the most part was well cooked but unfortunately some of the smaller lumps of deer were a little over. This was not at all enough to spoil the dish but it showed that this meal was slightly below perfection for the kitchen.

      I am not a big fan of Indian desserts but Chestnut and Date Kheer and Saffron Pistachio Kulfi Falooda were pretty good but still slightly suffered from being very sweet. The meal finished with a small piece of spiced white chocolate being served to each of us.

      Note- this was a lot of food, there is plenty of opportunity to load up on bread along the way, I recommend holding back on the carbs. slightly early on. It was also not cheap, although the Achari Wild Roe Deer course was £40 on the a la carte menu. However, overall this was a terrific meal and Gymkhana is certainly one of London’s top Indian restaurants and I will be coming back again definitely.

      1. I think the £20 lunch deal at Gymkhana is a great deal, especially because they offer it Saturdays as well - or at least they did back in fall 2013. Nice papads and chutneys to start - I'm used to getting them complimentary as you do in the US and get annoyed when you have to order them specially. For starters, I enjoyed my Duck Dosa - very flavorful meat, with the dosa in an upright cone so it didn't get soggy - but to my surprise, days after our meal, I found myself craving my partner's starter, scrambled eggs("bhurji") with lobster - it was smooth, creamy, simple, and served with buttery paratha. The mains were good but not as quite as delicious - we had Tandoori Guinea Fowl Breast, Leg & Green Mango Chat and Goan Cafreal Bream with Tomato Kachumber. I found the chat a bit oniony and one-note, although the breast was nice. You also get Palak Paneer and dal that is not as good and deep as the one at Dishoom. I had no room for dessert, but I can strongly recommend the Quinine Sour (including gin, ginger, lemon & egg white, with a fresh curry leaf making it super-aromatic), which is already gathering accolades. I saw the Wild Muntjac Biryani being served with a huge pastry dome and might have to go back sometime for that.

        1. Forgot to say that the only misstep for us was the tiny white chocolates at the end - they had betel leaf, which tasted perfumy and even soapy to us. Maybe it's just not to our taste.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Foodie94

            I loved those betel chocolates BUT I have fond childhood memories of visiting family in India and (very rarely) being allowed to have a proper betel paan leaf -- so the flavour is very nostalgic for me!