I’d heard many a good thing about Mayfair based Gymkhana, an Indian restaurant by the people behind Michelin starred Trishna. We’d had a cracking meal at their sister restaurant so I had high hopes for our lunch – and we left far from disappointed.
The ground floor dining room had a touch of colonial India about it with 1920’s music playing in the background. There was dark wood, green leather banquettes and hanging on the wall was a stuffed warthog. It felt like I’d stopped off for lunch in a hunter’s cabin whilst on safari in India – it was a beautiful space. A darker, more intimate dining room lay in the basement along with two cavernous rooms available for private hire.
A couple of reasonably priced tasting menus were available; the seven course for £55 or the five course game menu at £65. We however opted for the slightly costly a la carte.
We kicked things off with the venison keema naan, cucumber and cumin raita (£5.50). It was basically a naan bread stuffed with minced venison and although it was well spiced, the venison flavour didn’t come through and it was slightly dry.
Things got better and better from there on in. South Indian fried chicken wings with tomato chutney (£5.50) were expertly cooked; crunchy and charred on the outside yet moist and succulent on the inside. They’d been semi de-boned in a way I’ve never seen done before, meaning they were really easy to eat.
The kid goat methi keema, salli, pao (£11) was insanely flavourful. We opted to add behja, which were brains (£3 extra), which added a certain richness and fattiness and some crispy shredded potato sprinkled on top added texture. The whole thing was served with two mini bread rolls which we used to scoop up the goat – pure indulgence.
The gilafi seekh quail kebab (£12) which was similar to a kofte kebab, remained juicy and not at all dry with perfect seasoning. The accompanying pickled green chilli chutney quite literally blew our heads off – its spice reduced me to the chilli sweats big time!
Lamb nalli barra pickled turmeric and ginger (£25) wasn’t cheap but was certainly worth every penny. The thick chop, including a separate piece of bone marrow, was boldly spiced yet allowed the flavour of the medium-rare meat to come through perfectly. Cor’ blimey it was lovely.
The chicken butter masala (£13.50) was slightly spicier than we had expected but the flavour of the sauce was sublime. Thigh meat had been used meaning it was anything but dry and stringy – it remained impressively moist.
A side of palak paneer (£6.50) which was spinach with little squares of Indian cheese was as rich and unctuous as it gets.
We asked our waiter to suggest the prettiest dessert and although I’m not quite sure that’s what we got – the rose kulfi falooda (£8) looked like a brain haemorrhage in a glass – it definitely pleased our bellies in terms of flavour. It was a milky blend of rose jelly, vermicelli, basundi and wild basil seeds which tasted quite simply delicious. It was served with a tiny spoon, however we found it much easier just to drink the thing.
I now understand why everybody raves about Gymkhana – after eating the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever experienced, I shall be doing the same. I loved the surroundings, I loved the music, I loved the staff and most importantly I loved the food.