Gaylord has long been one of my favourite go-to cafes. Since my college days (KC, Churchgate), I’ve been traipsing into their bakery solo or with friends in tow to tuck into a muffin or pastry. Their famous ‘kona coffee’ has kept me company while I read Murakami or scribbled notes on life, the weather or just the music that happened to be playing on that particular day. But strangely, I’d never eaten anything from their restaurant menu until I received an invite for a leisurely weekend lunch. The occasion – the unveiling of their menu to celebrate their 60th anniversary.
The new menu consisted solely of Indian delicacies – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies spiced, curried and cooked to sizzling perfection. The restaurant consists of three sitting areas – the outdoor café where one can munch on goodies purchased from the bakery, the indoor restaurant area where one has to order from the menu only and a continuation of the restaurant upstairs. I’ve always loved the wrought iron chairs in their outdoor café and the familiar floral grill and I found myself missing all that a little in the restaurant area. But then, I noticed the paintings. They were tall, covering almost the entire length of the walls and what was most uncanny was the way the subjects looked directly at the viewer. Their faces were beautiful and emotive but never smiling. They watched us while we gorged on dahi cheese rolls, kulhar ki tangdi and khumani ka meetha.
Gaylord symbolises old world elegance and one automatically feels like lowering one’s voice in the presence of the other stately guests. But Chef Zaheer’s master strokes ensured that we couldn’t stay dignified as we stuffed our faces with the following dishes:
Dahi cheese rolls: Soft and full of the goodness of cheese and yoghurt, these vegetarian rolls with a crispy exterior are a must-try.
Veg kulfi kebabs: An interesting concept, the kebabs are served on kulfi sticks in a shot glass accompanied by a sweet sauce. They weren’t as delicious as the dahi cheese rolls and perhaps, the chef could experiment with different sauces.
Champs Tajdar: These were excellent tandoori lamb chops served with a tasty green chutney and salad on the side. The meat was cooked to perfection and the marinade used was beyond delicious. A must have for the non-vegetarians.
Kulhar ki tangdi: Spicy chicken legs seasoned with coriander served in earthen pots – again as fantastic as the lamb chobs.
Lasooni fish tikka: Succulent pieces of fish were served in the same manner as the chicken and lamb but the marinade wasn’t as tasty. The other two are better choices. The garlic flavour certainly tickles the taste buds but it’s not the perfect fit with the fish.
Apple and prune salad: A simply delicious, creamy salad for those who enjoy sweet, fruit-based salads. I could probably have this for dessert. The salad is quite heavy because of the dressing.
Prawn and bell pepper salad: The flavour of the prawn is slightly overwhelmed by the similarly heavy dressing but it’s filling and a good choice for those who prefer not-so-spicy seafood.
Cooker da kukkad: The name made everyone curious and the chicken curry came in bright red cookers that were still on the flame. When the cooker whistled, steaming hot curry was served. The gravy is a bit too thin but the dish scores high on novelty value.
Mutton dum biryani: As far as biryanis go, this wouldn’t be the best you’ve ever had. The rice is more like pulao and there aren’t enough pieces of meat. Give it a miss.
Veg dum biryani: This one has the same issues as the mutton dum biryani and I don’t recommend it unless you plan to have it with some curry.
Chatpata aloo: The only vegetarian main course, this one is a safe favourite. The potatoes were spiced and flavoured in the quintessential north Indian manner and it was not at all dry.
Hanky shanky korma: This is the dish you need to order if you’re a fan of chicken curry. The gravy was scrumptious and the chicken much better than the cooker ka kukkad. The curry goes well with both roti and rice.
Dessert (seen in the featured image of this post)
Khumani ka meetha: The chef took a risk with this one but in my opinion, it paid off. A simple dessert made of ripe apricots, it was seasoned with pistachios and a generous topping of mawa. Surrounded by smoky dry ice, the dish made quite a dramatic entry on our table. I liked the fact that it wasn’t too sweet or heavy and one can easily devour an entire bowl.
Drinks (not part of the new menu)
Caipiroska: A version more similar to mojito, the drink is refreshing with the right amount of mint and tart sweetness.
Cosmopolitan: A ladies’ drink, the bright red vodka and cranberry juice-based cocktail stays true to what it’s meant to be.
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to pay a visit to this iconic South Mumbai restaurant, the new menu more than provides it. Perfect for a quiet dinner with family or your better half, the restaurant is also very accessible because it’s right opposite Churchgate station and not too heavy on the pocket, considering it’s fine dining (Rs 1700 for two).
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