Add a dash of spice, stir it with ingredients grown in Britain and slow cook it with an ambience in tony Mayfair that reminds one of the colonial days in India, and you get a recipe for a restaurant that must win awards in a Britain hooked on tingly ‘desi’ food.
That is exactly what Delhi-origin Karam Sethi did when he rustled up the Gymkhana restaurant in Mayfair in September last year with an Anglo-Indian seasoning. It uses seasonal British ingredients, “with a strong focus in the tandoori oven”.
Rattan furniture, wood booths and dark-lacquered oak ceiling makes for the perfect ambience of bygone era.
(Photo courtesy: gymkhanalondon.com)
The popularity of Indian food in Britain has spawned a range of awards, including the British Curry Awards that are attended by the movers and shakers in Britain, and the Tiffin Cup, which is run and judged by MPs in the House of Commons.
Sethi’s Gymkhana has now been named Britain’s best in the National Restaurant Awards, run by the ‘Restaurant’ magazine. Voted by industry experts, the award is Sethi’s second accolade, after earning a Michelin star in 2012 at his first restaurant, Trishna. Gymkhana’s ambience is described thus: “The interior design of Gymkhana references British Raj India with ceiling fans that hang from a dark-lacquered oak ceiling, cut glass wall lamps from Jaipur, hunting trophies from the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Grandmother Sethi’s barometer”.
The restaurant is family-run, with Sethi’s brother Jyotin looking after the business side as managing director and sommelier sister Sunaina curating the wine lists and looking after operations.
Sethi said: “To be voted the number one restaurant in the UK is a big surprise and beyond our wildest dreams. There are so many brilliant restaurants and inspiring chefs in the list who probably deserve it more, so to be recognised by the industry in this way is incredible. It’s a credit to all the Gymkhana team who have worked extremely hard to create a restaurant we are so proud of.”