Created by Karem Sethi, the brains behind Trishna in Marylebone and a Director of Bubbledogs on Charlotte St. Gymkhana is inspired by the old colonial Indian clubs set up in India for members of the Raj to socialise, dine, drink and play sports in.
Upstairs, the room definitely has a luncheon feeling to it with small boothes, the basement dining room is a whole different thing. Ceiling fans hang low over brass tables and the dark wooden walls are full of Indian sporting print and old Punch sketches helping to really make you feel like you’ve just step back into the Raj era.
The aroma hits you as soon as you walk through the door. We instinctively knew that our meal was going to be better than at the local curry house. No non-descript meat all in a generic prepared curry sauce. Everything came with it’s own reinvention in some slight way but with the price tag to with it. Aside from our set lunch menu – 2 courses for £25.
We started with papadums. Nothing unusual here. The rest of the menu, however, has a strong focus on game cooked in a Tandoor oven; Duck Egg Bhurji and Tandoori Guinea Fowl amongst a plethora of other options, which is a bit different to what we’d expected.
For our mains, we decided on a Ajwani Salmon Tikka and the Kid Goat curry, both pleasantly served without the generic curry sauce.In fact, the Kid Goat curry came with small Pav (little buns), deep fried chilli and chopped red onion, our waiter encouraged us to make our own Goat flavoured Pav Bhaji. Brains are available as an optional extra.
The downside? Whilst we found it a beautiful restaurant, with great service and enjoyable food. There’s something to be said for what The Spectator said about it. Is it right for us to celebrate the Raj’s rule over India in such a way? No doubt we’ll be back for another meal but it’s certainly food for thought….What we know for sure is we won’t be back at our local curry house for a while.