Good Lord! Gaylord is Great




Before we begin recounting our epic Indian dining experience at Gaylord, we should prepare you appropriately. This isn’t a review to be rushed into lightly. So, settle into a comfortable chair, make your favourite drink and join us as we attempt to relay our journey into Northern India’s culinary wonders. Tempting as it may be to merely group together some of the many dishes we enjoyed so much - that would not do them justice.
At the risk of this piece reading like some sort of sycophantic list ‘we had this, then that, then this and it was delicious’ we’re going to enter our gastronomic mind palace and share from the large amount of exceedingly pleasant memories created last week.

On the hottest day of the year so far, a select group of writers, foodies and bon vivants - gathered to enjoy an exquisite meal at Gaylord Restaurant on London’s Mortimer Street.
Gaylord is a London institution spanning generations; part of a family of restaurants established in 1940 with their first site in Delhi’s Connaught Place, followed by a Gaylord in Mumbai in 1952 and their London restaurant which opened in 1966.
The restaurant’s tasteful ivory interior and elegant glass frontage is evocative of an era when class and grace were paired with majestic charm. It’s that ethos which permeates everything at Gaylord, from the extremely attentive but unobtrusive service to the imaginative creations on the menu - combining classics and contemporary dishes - without feeling dated.
Our wonderful Mughlai - Northern Indian - feast began with welcome drinks,
a Sharabi Saffron Thandalor followed by a Virgin Paan Mojito. As mentioned, the evening was a sultry one, so the refreshing drinks were indeed most welcome.
The Sharabi Saffron Thandalor was best described as a refined and grown-up Advocaat or eggnog - an alcohol kick of milky rum delicately flavoured with similar spices to a chai tea, cloves, cinnamon and of course saffron. Contrastingly the Virgin Paan Mojito was wonderfully fragrant and flavoured with candied rose petals, ginger and mint. Each of these delightful drinks was an ideal partner for the varied procession of amuse bouche and canapés that accompanied them.

The canapés were a tour de force. A golgappa shot set the scene - Gaylord’s Manager Sameer explained that this was a take on a popular Indian street snack, where the idea is to soak the accompanying pastry morsel in the delicious tangy tamarind spiced liquid and pop the whole lot into one’s mouth. A playful bite injecting a sense of fun into our evening, right from the get-go.

Next we were served mini Bhelpuri cones, containing a divine spiced salad with puffed rice and healthy amounts of chili and zesty citrus. A seemingly extremely simple dish where the end result was so much more than the sum of its parts. We want the recipe!

A succession of more canapés and amuse bouche followed, including a bite sized Aloo Tokri Chaat, a famous Delhi snack incorporating a potato cake bowl containing a particularly pleasing sweet corn masala salad.

If the canapés and excellent service are anything to go by - and they are - Gaylord is the ideal choice for a private event. Why would anyone settle for yawn-yawn mini fast food bites when mouthfuls of sheer delight can be had? Murg Malai Tikka was our initial appetizing encounter from Gaylord’s unique Tandoor charcoal oven.

Gaylord was the first restaurant in London to have an authentic Indian Tandoor charcoal clay oven. The restaurant’s extremely hospitable and all around excellent General Manager Sameer Berry explained to us that back in the 1960s, the owners were so concerned that London’s first Tandoor should arrive safely when flown over from India, it was given its own seat and seatbelt on the aircraft! The same oven is still in use today, almost 50 years on, which is a treat for us because nothing compares to the exciting and delectable flavours and aromas produced on a truly authentic charcoal Tandoor.
Zaffran Chicken Tikka completed our series of mouth watering canapés - by now our taste buds were smiling with pleasure from such delightful foodie foreplay - so on to the main event!
For starters we enjoyed a royal procession which began with chargrilled tiger prawns in a saffron and tandoori masala marinade. The simple fact that we briefly forgot to photograph one before diving-in speaks for itself - best described as nom-nom-nomenclature!

Next in our succession of starters we particularly enjoyed Murg Gilafi Seekh, chargrilled chicken with a layer of bell peppers and smoked with cloves. A welcome piquant hit.

Our course of starters culminated with two kinds of Tacos - Spicy Rajma, a vegetarian’s delight with red kidney beans and for meat eaters an entirely pleasurable lamb Seekh Kebab. These were served on a regal carriage - never before has the humble Taco been served with such aplomb.



Crab cakes Dakshini, incorporating sugar cane stick, curry leaves, sesame seeds and mustard cress, were thoroughly enjoyed by all who tried them.



At this point we were served an exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon. A first for the Ambassadors of Food is that we feel like keeping the details of this wine to ourselves - it was that good - complex yet not overbearing with hints of cocoa and berries. We will be hunting down a case at the earliest opportunity. Seeing as our ethos is to be inclusive - even when recounting the exclusive - it’s only fair we share - - D.O. Valle Siete Soles Estate 2013 from central Chile. The wine was a supremely great pairing with the complex Northern Indian spices and flavours of our meal. A real gem that left even seasoned foodies pleasantly gobsmacked.
With canapés and starters complete, our main courses had a lot to live up to - yet Gaylord managed to meet our heightened expectations and surpassed them.
Chargrilled lamb chops Anardana were tender and succulent - infused in pomegranate seeds with spicy ginger - they tasted as good as they looked. Some of the finest Naan bread we’ve had accompanied our main course - resplendent with aromatic seeds.


Gaylord Butter Chicken with signature Makhni sauce was another stand-out dish in a field of excellence - tender, subtly spiced and sweet, without being at all overbearing - an ideal foil to the char grilled meat.



We were also served a delicately spiced and aromatic prawn coconut curry with mustard seeds and kaffir lime. Vegetarian diners at our table were not treated as some mere after thought, but enjoyed exquisitely cooked dishes - including this wonderfully colourful melange of chargrilled vegetables.


Another stand-out dish on the night - all the more impressive given the stellar cast of dishes - was Fish Tak-aTak, a whole tandoor grilled Pomfret in an exceedingly rich royal cumin and ginger masala gravy.


Yet another highlight among a dizzying array of excellence, was slow cooked lamb shank with Kashmiri red chili, plum tomato curry and fiery red onion.



An ideal complement to the deep and complex flavours of the lamb and fish, was Palak Paneer - Gaylord’s homemade cottage cheese with pureed spinach.


Yet another “wow” moment occurred with the arrival of a puffed and deep-fried Bhatura that appeared to defy the laws of physics - it was beautifully paired with accompanying Chana Peshawari chickpeas - a Gaylord’s speciality since 1952 and flavoured with a secret mix of spices.

We were treated to a range of accompaniments to our main courses - we enjoyed Dal Bukhara, signature lentils, cooked overnight - staples such as long grain fluffy rice and saffron - Zaaafraan Basmati - were elevated to something removed from the more commonplace Indian food most people have experienced.
And that’s really the whole point of our experience at Gaylord - it’s a restaurant that stands in a completely different league to others serving Indian food - in the attention to detail and execution of all its dishes- including a humble bowl of rice.

Bread was not merely bread. Whereas we’ve all likely enjoyed a peshwari Naan or stuffed paratha - we were served Tokri - a wonderful assortment of freshly baked breads from the charcoal Tandoor oven - including a particularly excellent aromatic seeded crisp Naan.


Baingan Hyderabadi, aubergine chunks in a hearty masala gravy - yet another on the considerably long list of highlights.


Anar and cucumber raita was a revitalising and welcome side dish, a clean and fresh yogurt flavoured with pomegranate, cucumber and roast cumin.


Having feasted on such a wonderful and varied array of savoury dishes - dessert was something some of our experienced fellow diners appeared to be somewhat apprehensive about. Those who’d toured India extensively were all too familiar with the sometimes overly sweet dishes that may all too suddenly turn off the music at the party that was by now in full swing on our taste buds. But they had no need to worry because Gaylord’s sweets were as elegant and perfectly balanced as all the other dishes we enjoyed.
Gajar Halwa was a sweet carrot halwa - not a Middle Eastern overly sweet halwa - served warm and with nuts. It was beautifully spiced and tasted like a superb carrot cake - although with a completely different consistency and served in an opulent silver container that would be equally suitable for keeping jewellery.


Last but not least - we enjoyed Gulab Jamun - gelatinous doughy balls that were paradoxically light yet dense - soaked in a honey liquid - balanced and not overly sweet, these were flambéed in a spiced dark rum - concluding our feast with theatrical flare.


So Dear Reader - like some contented Hobbit returning to the Shire after an inspirational adventure - it’s time to wrap our altogether delightful Gaylord experience.
We heartily recommend Gaylord and very much look forward to our next visit, when we plan to try the set Thali menu - exclusive to lunchtimes - which looks to be extraordinarily good value.


It takes something special to stand-out on London’s culinary canvass for over five decades yet not feel dated. Receiving well deserved recognition as both an institution and an originator, Gaylord shines through.

From flying Tandoors to flaming dough balls and all that’s in between - head straight to Gaylord, you’ll be glad you did.

Gaylord Restaurant, 79-81 Mortimer Street, London W1W 7SJ Map


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