It’s National Curry Week this week here in the UK. That to me is a great excuse for some good food and lots of curry!
EmJay is a huge fan of whisky and we’re both as you know big fans of all things food so when we saw that Gymkhana in London was doing a Johnnie Walker Hip Flask dinner we just had to get involved.
Gymkhana is a restaurant that’s been on our list for a long time, in their own words:
On Monday 9th October, we went for the first time to experience a 4 course Game menu with matching Johnnie Walker cocktails that were acquired from 4 of the best bars in the world.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the hostess and as we went straight after I finished work we were amongst the first diners that evening. This was short lived and the whole restaurant was buzzing with atmosphere within half hour of us having drinks.
We’d already pre-paid for the food and cocktails but as we were early, we got a couple of cocktails to start before the set menu with drinks was brought out. Our server promptly asked if we had any food allergies that the kitchen needed to be aware of so I advised them of my shellfish allergy.
I got the Gymkhana Nimbu Pani, it was lovely and sour, just as it should be. Nimbu Pani in India is often used if someone is feeling nauseus or queezy. The traditional ingredients include lemon juice, black pepper and mint. The alcoholic version I ordered included a twist on the classic with Tequila, grapefruit and raw mango to name a few of the ingredients. The drinks we great.
Once we’d advised our server that we were ready for the meal, they promptly brought out a poppadom basket with 2 chutneys, 1 tomato based and a green chilli and mint. The menu stated that poppadoms would come with a shrimp chutney but as I had advised them of my allergy, the alternative green chilli and mint was brought out. 3 different kinds of poppadoms and both the chutneys were the perfect start to our meal. Spicy, crunchy and sweet with the chutneys at the same time, they opened up our taste buds to what was to come throughout the evening.
So from here the fun really began. The bar tender came over to our table with the serving glasses and a hip flask filled with the first Johnnie Walker cocktail. ‘French Walk’ designed by the Little Red Door, Paris. It was a blend of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Williams Pear and Gentian de Lure. This was then swiftly followed by the first course of Grouse Cafreal, Kall Dosa with a Coconut & Chilli Sambol.
The grouse was perfectly spiced, the dosa soft and fluffy and the coconut and chilli sambol brought the whole thing together into a burst of flavour with every bite. This was the first time both of us had eaten grouse cooked this way and it definitely left us wanting more. The cocktail, sipped alongside just elevated the flavours in both the drink and the food.
Following this course, again, the bar tender came over with fresh glasses and another hip flask, this time filled with the ‘Shikari’ designed by Scout in London. A mix of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Garam Masala, Jaggery, Apricot Wine and Elderberry. It was sweet and spicy on the nose and really light to drink on it’s own.
Served with a Gilafi quail sheek kebab with green chilli chutney. This was quite possibly the best kebab EmJay or myself has ever eaten (and believe me we’ve tried a lot of kebabs!). The cocktail made the flavours pop in your mouth and the sweetness of the apricots really helped to cut through the fire brought on by the chilli chutney. All in all a perfect second course.
We were then asked by our server if we wanted to take a little break between this and the main course which we were thankful for. So many restaurants especially when as popular as Gymkhana tend to unintentionally make a diner feel like they have to rush, being offered a break was a breathe of fresh air.
The main course was served with ‘Hop Scotch’ from the Baxter’s Inn in Sydney. A blend of Johnnie Walker Black Label and IPA wine. With it’s subtle Johnnie Walker notes blended with the wine it was really easy to drink on it’s own, it even tempted me get a bottle of IPA wine to blend with the Johnnie Walker I have sitting in the drinks cabinet!.
Main course was a Wild Muntjac Biriyani which was served with pomegranite and mint raita, Dal lasooni, and house pickles. This was BEAUTIFUL. Biriyani is something I always think restaurants are not the best at. I may be being biased but my mum makes the best biriyani and I haven’t yet come across a restaurant to do it justice, until this showed up at the table. A clay pot covered with puff pastry to hold in all the steam while it’s cooking.
Muntjac is a species of deer. The meat is super lean and really clings on to the robust spices used to create a biriyani. The dal and raita complimented the whole dish beautifully with the pickle. The drink served with this cut through the richness of the meat and provided a great palette cleanser between bites. It brought out the umami savoriness of the biriyani and at the same time provided an almost fizz to the tongue along with the raita.
The final course was served with a ’21 Butt Salute’ from Please Don’t Tell in New York. It was a blend of Johnnie Walker Double Black Label, Amontillado Sherry and Belle de Brille. Interestingly, this drink was served in a super cold glass, this is unusual for how we usually drink congac based cocktails but we went it it. It was lovely and fresh on the palette with lots of fruity notes.
The dessert served alongside this was a Saffron and Pistachio Kulfi Falooda. It was delicious but nothing spectacular. This was the only course we were a little disappointed with. As we were there for a hunters menu, we were hoping for something warm and hearty to finish the meal, if we were going to choose, we’d have said a warm creamy kheer pudding with a brûlée topping or even a spiced sticky toffee concoction. Putting that aside, it was still delicious even though it wasn’t to our tastes.
Overall, the service was exceptional and the atmosphere was great. Gymkhana, we’re already planning our return to try the A la Carte menu.
Photo Credits: Featured image and ‘About GymKhana’ image taken from the GymKhana Website which can be found here for the purposes of this blog post.