After an unfortunate fire, the high-profile London Indian restaurant, Gymkhana, had to shut its door for refurbishment work. They reopened in Mayfair again in March 2020 after a seven-month hiatus but only to be hit by the pandemic. Gymkhana was the last restaurant I got to visit before the dreaded lockdown happened when I first wrote this review. Two years later, we revisited again to try out more dishes from their menu and updated this article.
Gymkhana London: Colonial Indian Fine-Dining in Mayfair
Stepping through the huge emerald door, you’d be immediately transported into the colonial Indian era and welcomed with a grand seductive interior. Gymkhana has been holding a Michelin star since 2014 and has been loved by many high-profile celebrities, including the likes of David Beckham, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, etc. The restaurant was very dimly lit, so apologies ahead for the grainy photos in this post. Its ambience almost reminds me of Bombay Bustle, another Mayfair contemporary Indian restaurant, but Gymkhana has got a more sumptuous vibe in the air. The ground-level area has more of an emerald green tone whereas the downstairs area featured more of a regal red palette and was adorned with plenty of artworks on the wall.
Food-wise, Gymkhana prides itself in contemporary Indian cuisine, using seasonal British ingredients, with a “strong focus on the tandoori oven and chatpatta sharing dishes”. Chicken, lamb and goat are halal at Gymkhana. No pork but alcohol is served at the restaurant.
The Food: What We Ordered
Date of dining: March 2020 & September 2022
- Kid Goat Methi Keema, Salli, Pao (£16)
- Amritsari Shrimp & Queenies, Dill Raita (£18)
- Patiala Fried Chicken (£13.50)
- Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops (£54)
- Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns, Red Pepper Chutney (£26)
- Gucci, Klumb & Truffle Pilau (£26)
- Lamb Shank Rogan Josh (£30)
- Masala Chai (£4.50) & Pistachio Mango Lassi (£5.50)
- Saffron & Pistachio Kulfi Falooda (£8) and Petit Fours (complimentary)
Kid Goat Methi Keema, Salli, Pao (£16)
The Kid Goat Methi Keema is one of the most popular dishes at Gymkhana and a must-order. During my second visit, I was just as impressed with the dish as I was the first time. The keema was lusciously rich in flavour and oozing umami at every bite. With a squeeze of lime and topping it off with some chopped onions, it was an absolute joyride for the palate. I also adored the salli on top which added an extra crunch in texture. The pao buns were rather small in size and we had to order extra to wipe up all the keema from the plate. All in all, it was indisputably a divine and world-class dish that’d make you want to keep coming back for more.
Amritsari Shrimp & Queenies, Dill Raita (£18)
If you’re looking for the perfect nibble, I think these Amritsari Shrimps are the definition of it! Fried to a gorgeous golden crisp, these fried battered shrimp were addictively savoury and highly palatable to taste. Whilst they were absolutely fantastic, I was even more intrigued with the Dill Raita on the side, which was interestingly whipped into a soft cheese-like texture. It was for sure an interesting try, adding a touch of richness to the dish and paired well with the shrimp.
Patiala Fried Chicken (£13.50)
When we ordered this, the staff warned us that this is going to be very spicy. But when we got the dish, it really wasn’t that spicy at all. It was more of a tangy sweet chilli sauce coating over the chicken pieces with a mild kick of heat. We were expecting it to be crispier and have a more robust crust but it was sort of just like a saucy chicken stir-fry. Whilst not bad, it really wasn’t anything impressive or particularly memorable.
Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops (£54)
In March 2020, the lamb chops were at £38 per portion. But now (September 2022), it’s at a whooping £54 per plate! Admittedly, we nearly didn’t want to order it because of the steep price. However, remembering how amazing those lamb chops were from our last visit, we eventually caved in. Thankfully, they were just as meaty and delicious as we remembered.
I’d happily say Gymkhana makes some of the best lamb chops in London. The chops were impressively large in size, like humongous, and incredibly thick and meaty. They are extraordinarily well-marinated, each bite was a burst of robust flavours, and got a really good kick of heat and spice to it. If you like your lamb chops spicy, this is the one. Despite their massive chunky size, the meat was tender, succulent, and juicy to taste.
Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns, Red Pepper Chutney (£26)
The tiger prawns were one of their newer menu addition when they first reopened after the fire. The staff were full of praise about the dish and highly recommended it during our visit, so we listened and ordered it. When I see the word “Wild Tiger Prawns”, I sort of hoped the prawns would arrive shell-on, but they were the typical de-shelled prawns with just the tail on. Anyhow, the prawns were huge in size and were cooked to a perfect al dente texture. They’re also a lot meatier to taste than they looked, which is great. I thoroughly enjoyed the piqunt flavours on the prawns, which was stunningly palatable and the quality of prawns got to shine through as well. The red pepper chutney on the side made a great compliment to the prawns and gave them a beautiful finishing touch. It was certainly an amazing recommendation from the staff!
Gucci, Klumb & Truffle Pilau (£26)
If you like mushroom and enjoy a whiff of truffle fragrance, then you’re going to love this Pilau. Gucci is one of the most expensive types of mushrooms in the world as it cannot be commercially cultivated and has to be picked from wild forests in various regions. Served with pastry over it, the moment the pastry lid was removed, a beautiful aroma just filled our table. The rice was perfectly fluffy and savoury, laced with touches of truffle and meaty chunks of both Gucci and Klumb mushrooms. Safe to say, we cleaned that pot fairly quickly. The pastry lid was a delicious munch too, featuring nutty sesame flavours and simply addictive.
Lamb Shank Rogan Josh (£30)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t recommend this Lamb Shank Rogan Josh at Gymkhana. If anything, I would go as far as calling it a poor curry, which I totally wouldn’t expect out of a Michelin-awarded fine-dining restaurant. What went wrong with the curry was that it was far too heavy and pungent on the star anise, and the rest of the flavours were underwhelmingly flat. There were no dancing of flavours or sparkles to the palate, and just unlike any Rogan Josh curries we’ve ever had. With that price tag for a curry, I totally expected more from them.
Masala Chai (£4.50) & Pistachio Mango Lassi (£5.50)
Starting with the Masala Chai, it’s foamy on top and got a decent punch of spices. However, it was lacking a rich, velvety and creamy touch that I was expecting. As for the Mango Lassi, it’s quite a winner. It uses Alphonso Mango, i.e. the King of Mangoes, which carries a naturally rich and sweet flavour. There are quite a few mango lassi variations to choose from on the drinks menu. We went for a simple Mango and Pistachio combo. The subtle fragrance and flavours of the pistachio blend flawlessly with the mango and yoghurt. It’s surely one satisfactory mango lassi to have!
Saffron & Pistachio Kulfi Falooda (£8) and Petit Fours (complimentary)
For desserts, we opted for the Kulfi Falooda, which comes served nicely in an elegant glass topped with a scoop of Saffron Kulfi with Pistachio dust. Upon serving, the staff poured the condensed milk into the dessert before we dug in. What we liked is that the falooda wasn’t too sweet and got a silky velvety texture to it. Nonetheless, it’s nothing like a spectacular dessert or anything that. It was a nice finishing touch to the meal but wasn’t as wowing as I would’ve anticipated.
Last but not least, as we grabbed the bill, we received some complimentary Petit Fours as well to finish off the evening. Not the biggest fan of them as they’re rather punchily minty and with a rather sharp cardamon touch.
Restaurant Review Summary
It’s safe to say that Gymkhana can whip out some extraordinarily outstanding dishes that give fireworks to the palate. For those dishes, they are truly a well-deserved Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant. However, the few underwhelming dishes are, unfortunately, not quite up to par and somewhat a bit of a shocking contrast to the high standards they set. Still, Gymkhana is a great fine-dining option should you be looking to splurge for the occasion – just make sure you’re picking all the right dishes!
Chicken, lamb and goat are halal
Nearest station: Green Park