This is one restaurant that I have visited and wondered why I had not done so long before now. Gaylord Restaurant was established in 1966 so I would have had plenty of time. Its location couldn’t be more convenient, being between two Underground stations and near shops and theatres. I guess that it has become an Indian restaurant institution and doesn’t get the publicity lavished on some newer kids on the block …or at least new kids on other London blocks.
I liked it. OK, so that phrase doesn’t have great wordy impact but it speaks volumes. It made a great impression on arrival. It’s cool and elegant in a very ‘international crisp white linen and ivory’ way but there were very Indian friezes by Prithvi Soni on the wall to give a nod to the ethnicity of the culinary offerings. For me, this is just the right balance of décor laced with exotica. I was comfortable.
The diners were an eclectic mix of American tourists and local Indian and European regulars. There were couples as well as families enjoying cooling drinks before their meal on this unusually hot and humid summer night, in a London that seemed to be emulating the sub-continent.
Gaylord has a beautiful menu. That is to say the actual menu is beautifully presented with heavy card pages, muted colours, metallic details and a very practical landscape layout. It hinted at the quality of food to come, when such attention had been given before a morsel had even been ordered.
But we did order and started with non-alcoholic cocktails. I can recommend the Virgin Paan Mohitos made with rose petals, fresh mint, lime juice and buckets of ice. A thirst-quencher with a delicate perfume.
Gaylord remains faithful to its traditions that were started in India in the 1940s. There are dishes which are familiar and there are others that cross boundaries. I have never been keen on fusion dishes but the Tacos here are worth trying. They are an Indian version of the Mexican street food classic. The menu mentions soft tacos but ours were the crisp corn tacos with that very particular flavour …and it really worked with the filling of lamb seek kebab with a pile of garnishes. I am sure the soft taco shell would have been good but the crisp one has more flavour and is fun, although messy, to eat.
My guest ordered Mixed Vegetable Pakoras. Yes, a standard dish but that standard does vary from restaurant to restaurant. These were just for which I would hope. It’s all about the batter which coats those veggies, and this gram flour batter gave a light, crisp and oil-free pakora that was moreish.
Murg Gilafi seekh was my starter. Minced chicken had been lightly smoked, giving a moist and juicy kebab. Served on a sizzling platter with sliced onions, this was a winner. Golgappa shots were delicious and amusing and a must-try if there are a crowd of you. Tandoori prawns and chicken tikka are also good here, so order a few starters to share in tapas style.
Gaylord Grill is a substantial platter of Tandoori Lamb Chop, Fish Tikka and Murg Malai Tikka. The chop was charred on the bone with meat that was cooked to pink perfection. The chicken and fish were both melting and well-seasoned.
Vegetable Jalfrezi was my vibrant mix for a main course. A medley of potatoes, green peas, peppers, button mushrooms, carrots were tossed with warming spices and fresh coriander. This was a hot dish that was both light and flavourful on an equally hot summer night. A dish for any Indian food aficionado. It needed nothing more alongside than some rice and Yellow Dal Tadka tempered with garlic, red onion, and cumin – a hearty dal for sharing.
Baingan Hyderabadi should be a signature side dish at Gaylord. Aubergine chunks, simmered in spicy masala gravy are truly addictive. I am tempted to pop in for a portion of this and some naan bread whenever I am passing.
Gajar Ka halwa is a traditional homemade carrot pudding and here it is served hot with almond slivers and a great deal of style. It arrived in a silver jewel box which added to the general majestic ambiance of Gaylord.
This was a delightful meal and my only regret is that I didn’t visit sooner. I look forward to becoming a regular for lunch, dinner and a bite before going to the theatre. It will be a long time before I tire of the beautiful menu.
79-81 Mortimer Street
Phone: 020 7580 3615 or 020 7636 0808
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018