William Sitwell in The Telegraph:
Britain’s restaurateurs are scratching their heads. An Indian establishment has clinched the number one spot in the National Restaurant Awards. And it’s knocked the man of the moment off the top spot. Tom Kerridge, whose Hand and Flowers pub was last year’s winner, will not be the only one wondering today exactly how the cuisine of naan breads, chicken tikka masala, pints of lager and chutney could have pulled it off.
Except that Gymkhana, the Mayfair eaterie that won the coveted award, isn’t exactly your average curry house. It opened in September 2013 and was inspired by the Raj era of Indian gymkhana clubs. Fans, hanging from the dark lacquered oak ceilings, whirl softly; wall lamps are made from Jaipur cut-glass; there are hunting trophies from the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Oak booths host tables of marble, the banquettes are of bitter chocolate leather. The rooms are divided by mottled glass screens, the walls are hung with old Punch sketches and Indian sporting prints. The menu, meanwhile, features dishes such as duck egg and white crab bhurji, Chettinad duck, achari roe deer chops, mustard mooli, lamb nalli barra and Gilafi buffalo seekh kebab. Desserts include Jaggery caramel custard and rosewater kulfi falooda. Among the cocktails is the Ooty town gimlet, made with Hendricks gin and crystalised rose petals. Yes, there is a lassi, only it’s made with Butterfly Boston absinthe, cucumber and dill.