Review: Gymkhana, Mayfair

Cuisine: Colonial Indian
Price: £££
Swank Levels: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Freshly launched in the heart of Mayfair, Gymkhana created quite a stir with its opening. Gymkhana is Trishna owner Karam Sethi’s bigger and bolder venture. Evoking gymkhana clubs from the India’s colonial past the atmosphere in the dimly lit dining space is powered by authentic nostalgic additions from the era.

Entering through what looks like a large wooden household front door diners will be transported in to an Anglo Indian sports club from the days of the British Raj. This is achieved through dark oak wooden panelling across the restaurant’s walls, sephia photos of maharajas, hunting trophies and wall lamps cut from glass straight from Jaipur.

Would I Want Seconds?

The menu draws on regional dishes from all over the India but with a colonial twist, resulting in plenty of unusual options.
The menu at Gymkhana feature small and large snacks, side dishes and main courses which are separated between
curries, biryani, kebabs, game and chops. They also have quite a few different menus on offer, including a Vegetarian menu, a feasting menu and a game menu resulting in a great deal of variety.
       My Potato Chat with Chickpeas, Tamarind and Sev
The stand out dish is the Achari Wild Roe Deer, with Mooli Pickle and Roe Deer Keema Naan, however you’ll have to save up for this particular as it is one of the most expensive on the menu at £40.
The Kid Goat Methi Keema with Salli and Pao is also a popular starter, but it is also one of the more expensive at £11.
I tried the Potato Chat with Chickpeas, Tamarind and Sev as a starter which turned out to be a standard chaat dish, as I have had better in other London restaurants. Next I tried the Paneer Tikka with Cashew Nut and Corn Chat which was an inventive combination, but all was usurped by the excellent main course of  creamy Chicken Butter Masala. This was served with Dal Maharani and Basmati Rice as well as Wild Mustard Baby Potatoes and a bread basket with a delicious array of chutneys.

My Paneer Tikka with Cashew Nut and Corn Chat to start

Desserts here are inspiring but overly sweet. I tried the Jaggery Caramel Custard but this was much too sweet to finish, which is a first for a dessert lover like me. They also serve sweet carrot halva tart and a saffron pistachio kulfi falooda which is also just as sweet.

The cocktails however are astoundingly good and carefully crafted, as all of them are infused with Indian spices, making them very different to the cocktails available elsewhere.

My extremely sweet Jaggery Caramel Custard Dessert
Could I Afford Seconds?

We booked the Early Evening Menu which is much more reasonably than anything on the boldly priced A La Carte Menu as it offers 4 courses at £30. However this is only available Monday to Saturday between 5.30 - 6pm so you have to be quick with your order to get this deal.

Yet Gymkhana have a few different, and sometimes cheaper Set menus to choose from, including a Lunch Menu, with 2 courses for £25, or 3 courses for £30 and a 6 course Tasting Menu for £55. This options make dining at Gymkhana a it slightly more realistic option financially. In addition, the portions at Gymkhana are large, with small snacks served in the size of starters and rather large biryani dishes.

Overall: 4/5

Gymkhana’s atmospheric dining room combined with the ingenious menu and very attentive waiters, all of whom have an appropriate upper-class Delhi accent, makes Gymkhana a very attractive and impressive destination for a meal. The restaurant does Gymkhana does amazingly well in conveying its concept into the d├ęcor and presentation of the restaurant itself. This, alongside a very successful and wide reaching PR campaign during the launch means the restaurant is always brimming with diners.

However the prices on the a la carte menu do make me question if it really is value for money to dine here, especially when it comes to dishes such as the Potato Chaat which I have had better versions of elsewhere.

I would say that I actually prefer Karam Sethi’s first restaurant Trishna, to Gymkhana, as even though it is less elaborate in its decor, it is also less overwhelming. In addition the food at Trishna also stood out much more for its flavour.


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