7 May 2015

Gaylord London, a North India-style feast and restaurant review

You know how us bloggers are meant to be avant guarde foodies, will 'o' the wisp creatures that skip from cool new thing to the coolest new thing? Well, through years of trial and error living in the UK I now only ever order one curry dish from our favourite local Indian restaurant. *shock* *gasp* *will you ever read my mutterings again*

Our favourite takeaway is usually on a Friday - the long hard week having taken it's toll, is normally eaten at home in our pyjamas and there might just be a celebratory beverage here and there. The whole ordering rigamarole is hilarious. I'll get a phonecall or email or message asking 'what are we having for dinner?'. There'll be at least 17 messages backwards and forwards where neither of us wants to be the mischievous one who suggests our favourite naughty treat meal, and yet somehow by 6.45pm a plate full of vibrant flavours will be eagerly dug into. 

Gaylord Restaurant Review

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Gaylord Restaurant, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit. And revisit.

My absolute favourite is Lamb Saag Gosht (mild because I'm a bit of a spice wuss, even though the lads that take our order always sigh a little in disappointment - I'm fairly sure they're actually slowly dialling up the spice without telling me because my tolerance seems to be growing), fragrant mushroom rice and if we're being really naughty a freshly baked naan bread. Every. Single. time. It doesn't even matter where we go, as I adore Lamb Saag Gosht so much that I judge every single restaurant by the quality of theirs. Call it a neutral sample if you will.

As if trying to puncture this day-to-day rut we'd happily settled in, the Gaylord Restaurant team have been inviting a few bloggers here and there to sample a flavour feast of gargantuan proportions, and perhaps dislodge us old dyed in the wool diners from our comfortably favourite dishes.
 Gaylord Restaurant Review London

There were 17 courses. 17. Fit for a queen and her court perhaps, but instead we tech-laden bloggers made more of a motley crew around a banquet table on one side of the neat restaurant. With a heavy heart, and a rather full stomach I won't discourse on every course, but the highlights.

We began with a Sharabi Saffron Thandai, a rose infused cream cocktail blending white rum, saffron-infused gin, saffron and Thandai (a mixture of almonds, spices, milk and sugar). Sweet, rich and moreish it was an unusual start to a meal (especially of such epic proportions) but lovely nonetheless. This was swiftly followed with a virgin paan mojito, a refreshing glass of mint, rose and lime served over a bed of ice.

Gaylord Restaurant Review
A Golgappa shot (please excuse the blurry photos - I blame the rum!)

My favourite corner of the meal was actually the canap├ęs, a selection of bite-size morsels the restaurant owners often serve at corporate events. They were rather playful; a Golgappa shot (a perfect date ice-breaker unless you're wearing white), a zingy mini-Belpuri cone full of sharp flavour, Aloo Torki Chat, and two Tikka bites served in little boats.
 
 
Whilst we eagerly sampled everything, the restaurant general manager Sameer Berry told us how the North Indian Golgappa (also known as Pani Puri) is traditionally a street market food, usually made by a vendor who sits and makes thousands of the crispy mini-pockets, dunking them into tamarind infused water. (Sidenote: if you want to confuse a group of foodie bloggers with hilarious results - present Golgappa to them with the Puri in a shotglass for pouring into the hollow center!)
 
Gaylord Restaurant Review
Their lovely mini-Belpuri cone
 
Gaylord Restaurant Review
Aloo Torki Chat

I rather adored the Aloo Torki Chat, crispy potato discs topped with chickpeas. I thought at the time they are a perfect bridging taste between the reserved UK chip adoring palate and the more adventurous spice world - perfect for those picky eaters who order chips (As another wandering sidenote, have you noticed that pretty well every Indian restaurant has chips on the menu, and salt & pepper shakers on the table!? Just why people, why?)

Gaylord Restaurant Review
Murg Malai Tikka and Zaffrani Chicken Tikka nibbles with a soft raita.

The most fascinating tidbit for me were the Dashini Crab Cakes. Served on a sugar cane skewer in a dab of creamy tomato sauce, I loved the crisp sesame bite against the soft and crispy crab, and the fascinating texture of the sugar cane. They look completely unattractive in this photo, but that's because I don't want anyone else to order these and there be none left for me. As a famous actor once quoted, "Joey doesn't share".

Gaylord Restaurant Review
Dashini Crab Cakes

I rather enjoyed the humour a couple of the dishes were served with - one can't not mention the taco car that has practically broken instagram over the last few weeks... the shish kebab tacos weren't my favourite dish, but they definitely get props for amusing plating (just don't tell the hilarious Twitter account We Want Plates...!). Then we have the butter chicken, actually served with a pretty dab of pure butter festooned in a mini-ceramic scoop on the side of the bowl, and adorned with a single leaf of parsley.

Gaylord Restaurant Review

And then, only then the mains. (By this point I was only nibbling, but it's that kind of nibbling where you tell yourself 'just one more bite', and then you take another...) our end of the table sampled Lamb Shank you could cut with a spoon, lovely though mellow Lamb Chops Anardana, Hyderabadi Baingan - Aubergine in a Masala Sauce,  Dal Bukhara - a rich, thick lentil dish, a lovely Chana Peshawari full of ghee and spice, ubiquitous silver bowls of rice, pillows of freshly puffed bhatura bread and mounds of garlic naan bread. I really wasn't joking about the feast aspect.

Gaylord Restaurant Review

Sadly, in amongst that spread I didn't get to measure their Saag Gohst, but with a tummy groaning from nibbling each of the dishes presented for our snapping delight, I don't think any of us could have possibly entertained the thought of another mouthful.

Gaylord Restaurant Review
Carrot Halva (left, in the swoon worthy container) and Rasmala (right).

Oh, except for the rum-flumbeed Gulab Jamun (it's that 'oh, just one more then' situation and a win for the separate dessert stomach all bloggers seem to have). Gulab Jamun are delightful on their own; small doughnut-esque balls of fluffy, crisped delight but our eyes lit up (and a myriad of cameras came out) as the lights were dimmed and dark rum was flamed atop. Utterly delicious.

We also tried half spoonfuls of the Rasmala, a soft cheesecake swimming in condensed milk, and a beautifully presented Carrot Halva. With that we laid our utensils down in defeat, took up our bags and rolled into the night.

Gaylord Restaurant Review
Gulab Jamun

I would like to return soon and carry out my yardstick measure with their Lamb Saag Gosht. Located just behind Oxford Circus it seems to be a perfect spot to pop in away from the crowds. Maybe it'll be our next Friday night supper (will we be allowed pyjamas that's the real question, though the way fashion is heading it could be very likely...)

Gaylord Restaurant Review

Gaylord Restaurant est. 1966, I salute you.

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