Surviving through Mumbai’s cut-throat restaurant scene is no easy task. I see old restaurants shutting down and new ones cropping up left, right, and center. It’s sad that many old classics had to shutter shop due to inflation and being unable to keep up with changing times. Thank god, for a few old classics that still remain. Everytime one visits them, it is like a little taste in history. Gaylord Restaurant in Churchgate, is one of them!
My visit to Gaylord restaurant was deep rooted in nostalgia. Established and running from the late 1950’s, stepping inside Gaylord is like time travel. It is where my father hung out with his friends post college, it is where he took my mother on dates during their courtship phase, and it is still his go-to place when he’s in that part of town. They were one of the few places to serve continental food along with regular Mughlai fare during that time. And their bakery continues to dole out some of the yummiest pastries, cakes, pies and more.
I don’t think much has changed since then. The same vintage garden chairs, long sofas and bright chandeliers make up most of the space. The same bakery stands tall next door, with the same aroma of baking bread wafting through. The same menu with the classic favourites such as Lobster Thermidore and Chicken A La Kiev. The same wait staff who have been serving there since years. The same smiling manager, Mr. Noel D’Souza who has been working there since 1987. The same chefs who have been cooking the same recipes since decades now. Which is why the food you eat today tastes just like it did years ago.
I wondered why a restaurant such as Gaylord would want to have a bloggers table? They sure don’t need any publicity, considering how packed the restaurant was on Friday evening. It is commendable that they want to keep up with current trends by having social media presence.
My dad sent me prepared with a list of mains and desserts that I need to order. The staff at Gaylord did the work for us by creating a special pre-decided set menu focusing some of their favourites. I was disappointed that dad’s favourite Chicken A La Kiev wasn’t on the list. Nevertheless, it gives me a chance to go back with him to gobble that one up.
I sipped on my refreshing Pina Colada while we waited for the food to be served. The Chicken Cutlets were extremely flavourful, finely minced cutlets. So light and delicious, we could eat half a dozen each. The Bharwan Aloo or stuffed potato was my favourite appetizer. Tiny, jacket potatoes which were scooped out and stuffed with soft paneer fillings. The Lahori Fish Tikka fell flat comparatively.
We also ate some old, classics such as the Waldorf Salad, and the Prawn Cocktail. Both were doused in cream and slightly on the sweeter side, but tasty nevertheless. Warning: Two spoonfuls can fill you up!
The French Onion Soup was something I was waiting for, but it did not turn out the way I expected. I expected a creamy, onion-y, cheese laden soup, but instead I got which was watery. It did not have that layer of cheese that usually comes atop. Bursting the egg yolk hidden within added flavour however. The Chicken consomme, though less prettier than her counterpart was filled with chicken flavour. Perfect chicken soup for when you’re sick or when it’s raining outside. I also loved the old school cutlery they served our soup in.
We took a break from all the eating to take a tour of the restaurant and bakery. We were greeted by the smiling 87 year old CEO and former partner of the restaurant Mr. A.N. Malhotra. The bakery creates some delicious cakes, breads and desserts like the fondant cake in the picture below.
Now focusing back to the mains that were waiting for us. The Pomfret Meuniere was a batter fried fish and topped with lemon butter sauce. I wish it had more of the sauce, or a side serving of sauce to pour onto the fish. The Roast Chicken Bacon was traditional roast chicken and bacon served on the side. The bacon could’ve been more crispy, but I enjoyed the chicken.
The Mughlai dishes suprisingly fared better. The Kheema Nalli Gosht had both the mince and the mutton well done. Tender meat that fell right off the bone and spicy kheema made this a lovely dish paired with naan. The Murg Makhani was made just as the masses like it: tomato, cream based gravy and slightly on the sweeter side. The surprise dish of the night was the Lasooni Palak. Unappetizing to look at, but boy did it taste good! Smooth, creamy spinach with garlic undertones, was my repeat order dish of the evening.
With barely any stomach space left, we still made our way towards the final dessert course. I skipped the Poached Pears in Spiced Wine, and I was glad I did. Because it was too strong on the wine. And because the other two desserts were stars. The Crunchy Raspberry-Chocolate Mousse was a thick dense chocolate mousse with a raspberry aftertaste, which came because of the use of raspberry syrup. I loved the crunchy biscuit base on which the mousse sat.
We discussed how difficult is to get Caramel Custard right through the course of our meal, and swapped custard recipes. The custard here was going to be the ultimate test. The custard was perfect! Not too dense or too airy. Perfectly wobbly on your spoon. Not as sweet as most caramel custards are made nowadays.
At the end of the meal, not only were our stomachs satiated, but also our hearts. Such wonderful hospitality and good food, made this an evening that I’m going to remember for a long, long time. My dad and I need to make a trip back there soon. No wonder they say, ‘Old is Gold’.
Mayfair Building, V.N. Road,
Phone: 022 22044693, 022 22821259.
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