Rising from the ashes after a fire forced a temporary closure, JKS’ Michelin-starred Mayfair flagship remains one of London’s best Indian restaurants
Inspired by the elite clubs of India, Gymkhana has gone from strength to strength since it first opened in 2013. Located in the heart of Mayfair, the restaurant’s menu of refined yet punchy North Indian dishes has seen it become a leading light of London’s high-end Indian restaurant scene, with tables often booked up weeks in advance, and a Michelin star held since 2014.
Gymkhana hasn’t had an easy couple of years, though. The restaurant was forced to close, temporarily, in the summer of 2019 after a fire broke out and damaged half of the restaurant’s downstairs space. It eventually reopened in February 2020, only to have to shut its doors again a month later when the pandemic hit. In the wake of the fire, much of the basement space was remodelled, with the bar area repositioned and new furniture inspired by the work of Pierre Jeanerette installed.
By contrast, the ground floor dining area has retained its original design, which is inspired by India’s Raj-era gymkhana sports club and features both dining-room style and booth seating, as well as a bar area that takes inspiration from an Edwardian drawing room cabinet.
Much of the menu remains untouched, however, and the cooking retains that serious kick and intent that cemented its status as a Mayfair institution many years back. Signature dishes include the wild muntjac biryani served in a pastry-sealed bowl with pomegranate and mint raita; the kid goat methi keema, salli, pao and bheja; and the tandoori masala lamb chops with walnut chutney.
The bars of Gymkhana specialise in Club Cocktails, which showcase a modern Indian interpretation on renowned classics. They include the Silver-Sip Gimlet with Hendricks, jasmine cordial, clary sage Aecorn dry, silver tip jasmine cordial and clary sag; and the Pegu Club with Porters tropical gin, lime sherbet and sabro hops.