Have you guys ever heard of Zomato?
It’s a fantastic website and app that helps you search and discover restaurants in cities all over the world.
They’re originally an Indian company, but are quickly moving West, with locations now including London, Dublin and Prague.
They’ve also recently acquired the US-based site UrbanSpoon, so I’m expecting them to get even bigger in the coming months!
I’ve been using the app for several years now, mainly to help me find new restaurants to try in London, and a couple of weeks ago I started posting my own reviews on the site as well.
So I was super excited when they got in contact to invite me to a Food Blogger meetup at Gaylord Restaurant!
I heart Indian food. Like, a lot.
It’s a favourite with Gary’s housemates and our go-to is a place in Tooting Broadway called Mirch Masala, a fab little spot with awful decor, a BYOB policy and suuuuuper good food. (My regular is a Karahi Butter Chicken. In case you were wondering.)
It’s cheap, cheerful and great for off-the-cuff weekday dinners when neither Gary or I can be bothered to cook.
But Gaylord Restaurant is on a whole other level.
It’s the oldest Indian restaurant in London (having launched in 1966!). They’ve recently launched their new menu, and we were there to try it all out.
All of it. ALL. OF. IT.
5 canapés, 7 starters, 6 mains (though my table only went for 3), 6 sides and 3 desserts.
Plus cocktails. And wine.
So prepare yourselves…
We started with a small dish of poppadom-like crisps, chutneys and a Sharabi Saffron Thandai cocktail.
I had a sneaky look at the Drinks menu to see what was in it:
Bacardi rum, saffron gin, Malibu and Thandai (a mixture of almonds, rose petals, pepper, vetiver seeds, cardamom, milk and sugar), and garnished with a strand of saffron.
These were delicious but SO STRONG.
I’m blaming it for 90% of my hangover this morning…
Our first canapé was a Golgappa shot.
It’s a little puffed crisp “bowl” filled with chickpea tabbouleh and served with a shot of cold tamarind broth.
You then actually POUR the broth into the “bowl” before popping the whole thing into your mouth.
I LOVED these.
I’ve actually had them before (at a lovely little Indian called Roti Chai, behind Oxford Street) and they’re as good as I remember them.
The broth is really savoury and flavourful, and I really love the mixture of textures: the liquid with the crunchy crisp and soft tabbouleh stuffing.
After that came little cones of puffed rice and onion called Bhelpuri.
I kind of felt like I was eating rice krispies with raw onion (which isn’t my favourite anyway!) so this wasn’t one I’d choose again.
However, if nothing else, it was seriously pretty and SO Instagrammable!
Actually, EVERYTHING was so pretty.
The presentation of every single dish was absolutely perfect, with tea lights and flower petals decorating the serving plates.
Our next little snack were Aloo Tokri Chhat, a little potato cupcake topped with a mixture chickpeas, chutney, onion and finished off with an edible flower petal.
Because why not.
These were just as yummy as they were attractive, really moist and moreish!
Our final two canapés (yep, still on the canapés folks!) were chicken-based:
Murg Malai Tikka, where the chicken is marinated in cream cheese, yoghurt and mint before being roasted on a tandoor.
And Zaffrani Chicken Tikka, which is marinated in a special saffron spice mix and then chargrilled.
Both came served with a spicy green tamarind sauce and a cooling raita, and were absolutely delicious.
My fave was the Murg Malai, which was milder. You could really taste the cream cheese as well which I thought was awesome!
On to the starters!
Kicking off with Tandoori Tiger Prawns and minced chicken and red pepper kebabs (Murg Gilafi Seekh).
The prawns were ginormous. Brilliantly thick and meaty, but just a bit too spicy for my taste.
The kebabs were a bit like sausages and came served with an avocado cream that seemed an odd choice, but actually worked perfectly to off-set the spiciness of the meat.
Then came Baby Idli, a really dense sort of sponge cake that was quite bland by itself, but really nice when drizzled with “gunpowder spice” tomato sauce.
They were still too heavy for me though, and definitely not something I’d order again.
I would re-order the next one though: sesame-crusted Dakshini crab cakes.
They came served on sticks with a creamy, spicy tomato sauce and were really, reeeeally yummy. Thumbs up for these bad boys!
Next were the Andhra Scallops. They were really fresh and perfectly cooked, but we all agreed that they just didn’t taste of much (bar the fishiness and the drizzle of lemon juice we’d squeezed over ourselves).
There was also a tomato sauce to accompany them, but it just tasted like a plain passata, which was disappointing.
On to the next course…
THE TACO CAR!
You guys all went insane over this on Instagram.
(To be fair, I went insane too when I first saw it in the restaurant!)
It’s a taco holder. In the shape of a car. AND IT’S PURPLE.
We had two types of tacos to share between us: one filled with Lamb Seekh Kebab (that’s the minced meat one!) and a vegetarian one filled with Spicy Rajma (red kidney beans) and drizzled with a creamy sauce.
I actually liked the veggie one best. It was super fresh, and very light and delicate, which was a nice change after the strong tastes and heavy textures of the previous dishes!
We’re half way through guys. Hurrah!
We all agreed we needed a little break for our stomachs to expand again at this point, so we took lots of photos instead.
I love hanging out with Bloggers.
There is no one else on this earth who wouldn’t bat an eyelid when you take a hundred photos of a menu or a bit of artfully arranged tableware (or a taco car!).
In fact, they’ll probably join in!
On to the main event now.
There were two set options for mains. Most of the groups decided to order both and try everything, but my table (four of us) decided there was only one that we really fancied so we had:
Prawn Coconut Curry (light, fragrant and my favourite of the three!), Lamb Chops Anardana (marinaded in spicy ginger and pomegranate, then chargrilled) and the famous Gaylord Butter Chicken.
I have to be honest, butter chicken is my very favourite Indian dish, and this just didn’t quite measure up to my expectactions.
It was nice, but not quite what I thought it was going to be.
My standout favourite was definitely the Prawn Curry. I’d order that again for sure!
We had a whole bunch of sides to go with the mains as well: Zaafraan Basmati (saffron basmati rice), Baingan Hyderabadi (smokey aubergine chunks in a spicy masala gravy), Dal Bukhara (Gaylord’s signature lentil side dish) and a bowl of refreshing Anar and Cucumber Raita (yoghurt with cucumber and pomegranate).
We also had breads: a Chana Peshwari Naan (really yummy, with coconut!) and a Bhatura, which is a leavened bread that’s deep fried until it balloons up.
So y’know. Healthy. (But sooooo good!)
“Ooooh what’s THAT?”, I hear you ask.
Well my friends, this is Gajar Halwar. Also know as Carrot Pudding.
It’s served hot and topped with crumbled nuts, and I’m still not sure how I felt about it. Nice enough flavour, but a bit of a strange texture.
However, it was much MUCH nicer than the Rasmalai: a soft Indian cheesecake in a jar of cardamom-scented, sweetened milk and, again, with a topping of chopped nuts.
I just could not get along with this. The texture was awful, almost like curdled milk, and the flavour was just bland.
I very rarely intensely dislike a dish, but this was unfortunately one of the few…
They totally made up for the curdled milk with the next (and final!) dessert though!
More than made up for it.
Gulab Jamun is a sort of sponge cake made from milk solids and flour.
They then poured four shots of flaming rum over it. FOUR. And it’s a small cake. Whoops!
That’s probably why I pulled this face when they bought out the hot, wet towels for us to wash our hands with…
Aaaaand this one…
Oh and let’s not forget this little number!
Complete with smudged mascara and dodgy eyebrows. Sigh.
Thank you SO much to the amazing team at Gaylord Restaurant for their incredible generosity and impeccable, friendly and super-knowledgeable service. I’m definitely putting this in the books for future special event dinners! :)
Massive thanks also to the lovely Zomato folk who organised everything so that a bunch of us bloggers could go eat all the food! You guys rock.
Now you should all go and download the app, sign up to the site, and eat all the curry in the world.
Go forth my friends, and have a happy Thursday!
*I was a guest of Zomato’s for this dinner.
All opinions are, as always, my own! :)