Restaurant Review: Gymkhana, Mayfair

Date of visit: August 2021

My boyfriend and I had been hoping to visit Gymkhana for a while, with various obstacles popping up to prevent this; from the fire that shut the restaurant for a while to the covid lockdowns to the fact that the place is booked up weeks (or longer) in advance! Speaking of lockdown, we did become big fans of the delivery options from Brigadiers - part of the same restaurant group; JKS Restaurants. So we built up an even greater appetite for a fancy meal at Gymkhana.

We eventually managed to get a booking at 7.30pm on a Saturday night this summer and decided to go for the a la carte as we didn't think the tasting menu sounded that great, £80 for 5 courses. I wouldn't really consider this a tasting menu to be honest, rather a set menu which doesn't seem to reflect the restaurant's best dishes. But what do I know, I had never been! I had read a few reviews beforehand though to get an idea of the best dishes.

The Menu

When we arrived we had a cocktail at the bar each, which were both very decent and I would recommend. We then just had glasses of wine/beer instead of a bottle. Prices of wine by the glass are as you would expect, starting at £9 and quickly going to £12. 

Food-wise, we started with the pappadum selection with chutneys and raita. The pappadums seemed to be the exact same as the ones from Brigadiers, probably unsurprisingly. I love those and I loved these! The sorpotel was quite spicy, a sign of things to come actually. At £5, this was fairly priced.

We then had the chicken tikka with moong sprouts and kachumber. The chicken was excellent - wonderfully succulent and beautifully spiced, and the kachumber had an interesting tang to it, perhaps something fermented?? This was £18 for 4 quite big pieces of chicken so again a decent price.

Next up we went for the goat keema pao which was a bowl of minced goat that you put into a little brioche-like bun like a sandwich. This was getting towards being a bit spicy for me to be honest, so if you don't like spice beware! I didn't really love this and wouldn't order again, but I hear others are fond of it. This was £13, with an optional extra £3 to add bheja, which we were told is brains - we skipped that.

For the mains we decided to have the muntjac deer biryani (£28) and the tandoori lamb chops (£42), with a bread basket side (£10 - expensive!!) and dal maharani (£8.50).

We tried the lamb first of all, which seems quite expensive but is a generous portion. This was definitely the best thing we had, very well seasoned and well cooked. There were 3 chops, 2 of which were perfect and pink inside. The third was less lean and not pink, but all 3 were tender and delicious.

The biryani was nicely fragrant with lots of chunks of meat. This came in a bowl with a big pastry top that was opened up at the table. I hadn't seen this before with a biryani so it was quite fun. We actually were too full to finish this, so do be careful no to over order like we did! We had no room for pudding!

The Service

The dining room was actually smaller than I was expecting, and when we arrived we were taken to the bar for a drink as our table wasn't yet ready. Unfortunately the bar was full and we just ended up plonked in a corner with no seat and no service which is not what I expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. 

The vibe was definitely quite casual for a starred restaurant, but the service was friendly and attentive - nothing like a fine dining experience mind you, but comfortable.

Towards the end of the meal we were informed that we had 20 minutes left of our booking, which was interesting considering we were sat at our table 15 minutes or so after our booking slot. Again, a sign of the more casual environment where the business model seems to be a bit more about volume than some other restaurants at this price point.


Food: 3.5/5

The food was very tasty, but not very finely presented (for a Michelin starred restaurant). I don't think it was any better than the food at Brigadiers or Kricket which I love, neither of which have a star.

Service: 2.5/5

The service was fine but we got off to a poor start being dumped by the bar, and being rushed through at the end. Again, I would expect more for a Michelin star.

Value for money: 3/5

Pricing was generally fine apart from the bread basket. You can probably get a similar experience for less money elsewhere though.

Overall score: 3.3/5


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