Gymkhana: Much more than just a Vindaloo
Since Trishna opened in 2008, the JKS Restaurants' family has grown (and cleverly invested) to include much-loved Lyles, Bubbledogs, Bao, and more recently-opened Hoppers. It's fair to say they know a thing or two about what good looks like. I haven't been actively avoiding the mothership's starry-eyed sister Gymkhana in Mayfair since it opened in 2013, moreover I've just been a tad preoccupied with other happenings in our beautiful city.
When I first set foot in the place a few weeks ago, naturally I take a default enthusiastic approach; we don't just dip our toes into the cocktail list, we dive straight in. Tanqueray gets a solid seeing to across the board, favourites being the Rangpur '75 and House batch NOgroni. My real gin hero is the Rosemary Last Word, elegantly showcasing Gin Mare and of course Chartreuse. Darty indulges in the Kohli Margarita, a dangerously drinkable blend of Ilegal Mezcal, Tapatio Blanco, lime and tamarind chutney, all topped with pineapple foam.
The gluten free menu makes me smile, as it's virtually the normal menu, and I can have anything on it. You see, Gymkhana isn't your average curry house on the corner. Aside from its sparkling Michelin Star, it is moreish and approachable Indian food to savour; a simple plate of warm spicy masala peanuts is a perfect example of this.
Black pepper fish tikka undersells and over delivers, which we love. Tulsi (often seen elsewhere as Holy Basil) scallops are like a juicy kiss of health. In addition to heaps of flavour, dishes come with theatre. The kid goat has a dress-to-your-taste element, whilst the wild muntjac biryani encased in a pastry lid steals the show.
In any other Indian, I wouldn't even entertain dessert, but saffron halwa catches my eye. It might look like steak tartar, but trust me it's on the money, and yet another example of how Gymkhana's fare is approachable yet beautifully refined. I walk away that evening feeling very lucky, slightly tipsy and armed with a bunch of reasons why Gymkhana isn't just 'any other Indian'.
Five Very Kerri things about Gymkhana
- A delightfully short menu (for an Indian)
- The cocktails; perfect before, during, or after the food
- All about that biryani (share amongst the table)
- Being able to have most things on the menu
- The buzz; downstairs and upstairs have two totally different vibes