In the midst of a chaotic schedule that predominantly involves eating at the best places in town, I often pause to think about how much the gastronomic landscape in India’s maximum city has evolved. From meticulously curated global buffets to avant garde cuisine – the new kid on the block; we have indeed come a long way in our quest for gastronomic nirvana. But every time I pause to think how far we have come, I can’t but help going back in time, genuflecting to the iconic names that laid the foundation on which today’s eclectic F&B scene rests.
For Mumbaikars, even the most casual mention of South Mumbai’s (SoBo) restaurant scene is summarily incomplete without a few names and somewhere at the top of that list, is Gaylord. I remember my father accompanying his father on an army officer’s dinner at Gaylord, when he was a little boy. And what started 20 years ago with me accompanying my dad here on one of his reunions came a full circle when I was invited to the preview of Gaylord’s 60th anniversary special menu.
So Gaylord is replete with all the frills you’d expect from an old fine dining establishment. There’s an outside seating, a bakery, and then the posh looking inside dining hall. Brightly lit with fine china and neatly laid tables, Gaylord gives you all the pampering a fine dine can, at least with good hospitality if nothing else.
The service staff at Gaylord may not be the quickest of the lot but the time they’ve spent here brings ample knowledge of the menu and some really great suggestions that can sort a first timer for a great meal here. The courteous and hospitable demeanour of the staff is definitely from an older era and they’re genuinely interested in ensuring that you have a nice time here.
While Gaylord maybe a colossus among Mumbai’s restaurants it is certainly not immune to failing and has its own share of bad apples in the menu. That being said, thankfully the balance skews positively and more often than not, you’ll end up having a great meal here.
So our preview meal began with the KULHAD KI TANGDI, an amusing looking serving of chicken drumsticks in little earthen pots. It was a decent start to the meal, with the drumsticks grilled to succulent perfection and a moderately spicy tandoori marinade. The drumsticks came with a sharply flavoured mint dip that went really well with them.
Next up were the DAHI CHEESE ROLLS. Something I wouldn’t normally go for, but in this case I was glad I did. The rolls were made using hung curd and cheese with a flavour base of sweeter spices like cinnamon and cardamom. I don’t know how they were able to pull it off but the rolls were really crisp on the outside despite being cottony soft on the inside
I’ve always been a huge admirer of the humble looking offering of lamb chops – aka champ and the CHAAMP TAJDAR at Gaylord wasn’t the best portion of lamb chops I’ve had, but it was decent nonetheless.
I’m not entirely sure of this so I won’t lambast them for it, but I felt there was some colouring added to the dish for no good reason. The marinade had a slightly extra dose of chilli for the average palette and the masalas also seemed to be on the excessive side.
I might just skip this the next time I dine at Gaylord!
LASOONI FISH TIKKA – I’m one of those people for whom there’s no such thing as excess garlic and for that very reason I absolutely loved this dish. Besides, garlic works so well with seafood and we’ve seen so many cuisines mixing these two up together.
The pungency of the garlic comes out wonderfully well with the fairly basal flavour of the fish and the grilling only makes it better.
Having polished off the appetizers we were served some salad and that’s where they lost me momentarily.
The only thing I felt about either the APPLE & PRUNE SALAD or the PRAWN & BELL
PEPPER SALAD was like taking a bath in a puddle of mayonnaise. Neither of these variants are the salad variants that health conscious folks eat.
I did realize that apples and prunes go really well together, however I’m not too sure if I’d like to take another mayonnaise bath anytime soon!
COOKER DA KUKKAD started the proceedings for the main course and if you’re looking for some “close to home” goodness at a restaurant, this is your fix. As people who write about food we’re accustomed to seeing a lot of kitchen theatrics these days, and in comparison a pressure cooker being opened in front of you just doesn’t cut it. But talk about what’s inside and you’re back to happy days again. Oil, spices, ginger-garlic, chillies, onions, tomatoes, masalas, chicken, water, pressure cook, et voila – A recipe known by rote to perhaps all of us.
Doesn’t get simpler and better than this!
HANKY SHANKY KORMA – OK, so what to call something is as important as what you put in it and that’s led to a spur of never heard before names in the modern thesaurus of gastronomy. But calling a chicken hanky shanky just because it’s made from chicken shanks is taking it too far.
Anyway, moving on from the taxonomical guffaw, the dish is quite a dish even without the name. Being a korma, it is principally mild on spices and even the ones it includes are stronger on the aroma than the flavour, making it a generic palette’s delight.
Quite liked it!
MUTTON BIRYANI – I know Gaylord isn’t a biryani place and they’ve never been famous for their biryanis. But with a mutton dum biryani as good as that, I wonder why.
I have always favoured biryanis that are milder on the spice because that makes it easier for you to savour every flavour in the dish. Gaylord did a perfect job with the spice balance and the mutton was cooked to perfection, falling off the bone at the lightest touch.
Absolutely loved it!
Wrapping up the meal was perhaps one of the best KHUMANI KA MEETHA (dessert made from apricots) that I have had in recent times. This is easily one of the simplest desserts one can whip up and barely comprises of 5 ingredients – water including.
Served on a bed of dry ice, the khumani (apricot) ka meetha was topped with a dollop of fresh cream and it tasted so insanely awesome.
Gaylord, maybe a posh place to dine if you’re into the old school charm and leisurely pace but the way it is priced wouldn’t exactly give you that feeling. For the quality of food, the taste, the portions, and of course the legacy that comes along with the place, the pricing is quite reasonable.
Overall, Gaylord blends great food with extremely courteous service, a fine ambiance, and a legacy that is characteristic to the fledgling days of India’s modern dining scene where the customer was indeed the king and bringing a great experience to the fore was considered more important than raking in the moolah!
While there a lot many names on Gaylord’s menu that I can swear by, those I’ll hold on to for another recount of my never ending romance with this place.
I daresay there was ever a question whether I recommend Gaylord as a great place to dine. It was always so.