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Jamie Lau


Indian  in  Mayfair
Written by
Jamie Lau

The world is crazy these days.

Spring flowers are blooming in December. Your mum’s better at Snapchat than you are. You just saw your recently divorced auntie in a high-waisted swimming costume on Tinder. Not to mention the headlines, which are a flaming dumpster of rhetoric that makes us nostalgic for a time when the only uncertainty we faced was which state we were going to arbitrarily ‘liberate’ next.

We don’t really know what the Dickens is going on in the world anymore. But we do know this: Gymkhana is the best Indian restaurant in a city that’s famous for its Indian restaurants.

Jamie Lau

Making such a statement would be bold if it weren’t so undeniably true. Everything about this place - from the service to the cocktails to the glorious colonial-era dining room that’s straight out of a Rudyard Kipling novel - is perfect. But at the end of the day, it is all about the food.

In a word, the food at Gymkhana is fantastic. It is not precious and it is not fussy, but it is a restaurant that elevates classic Indian staples like a simple dhal or spiced rice to while still staying true to each dish’s humble origins. Standouts like the soft shell crab with crunchy bhel (puffed rice) or the wild muntjac biryani feel refined and impressive, but not in a way that will stop you from happily demolishing it, and then ordering another one.

Jamie Lau

Speaking of ordering more, your bill at Gymkhana can certainly add up. This is an expensive, upscale experience. But you can also keep things reasonable by sharing a few dishes with friends or coming at lunch. We’d even recommend popping in and trying to grab one of the five or so bar seats for a high level Dining Solo experience. No matter how you do it, you won’t find Indian food like this anywhere else. Trying to convince us otherwise would be pure rhetoric.

Food Rundown

South Indian Fried Chicken Wings

Ever wondered what a posh Indian restaurant can do with your garden-variety chicken wing? Now you know: incredible things.

Jamie Lau
Soft Shell Crab, Wild Rice Bhel

The dweeb inside us marvels at the crunchy rice bhel, which is delicate and crispy and ridiculously tasty. But then we remember there’s a world-beating soft shell crab on top of it. Really rather good, and if it’s on the lunch menu, get it.

Jamie Lau
Kid Goat Keema, Salli, Pao

The keema is a spicy, intense mincemeat made of a kid goat. It’s really, really good, and perfect on top of the soft toasted white buns that accompany it. Imagine the best sloppy joe you’ll ever eat.

Jamie Lau
Guinea Fowl Pepper Fry

This would be the best dish on the menu at any other Indian restaurant. But this isn’t ‘any other Indian restaurant’.

Hariyali Bream, Tomato Kachumber

A lovely piece of fish, cooked perfectly and covered in a very spicy coriander chutney. It’s nice, but with all the other excellent things to eat on this menu, you can safely give it a miss.

Roe Deer Chop

A must order. You can easily share this giant hunk of baby deer meat between your table - and you should. It’s incredibly tender and tastes totally different to the regular venison you’ve tried elsewhere.

Jamie Lau
Wild Muntjac Biryani

This is the best thing we’ve eaten in London in ages, and might be the best thing on the menu at Gymkhana. The biryani will make you understand why people go apeshit over this stuff in the first place, and even the pastry it’s baked in is utterly delicious. Unbelievably good.

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