Mumbai’s Iconic Gaylord Celebrates Timeless Indian & Continental Classics

In the culinary-scape of Mumbai, Gaylord – South Mumbai’s crowning legacy restaurant – has been a glimpse into the past of the city and the people that made it. Interestingly enough, when rumours were rife about the place closing its doors, patrons and old-timers were disheartened; only to learn that the short sabbatical was to revamp the space into the shiny, beautiful restaurant that everyone knows it as. Stepping into the space, although updated, feels like time travelling in the best way possible. With a pianist serenading diners with soft, non-invasive tunes, the medley of conversation dissolves into the atmosphere as we settle down eagerly to dine.

Guava Picante (L), Cinnamon Old Fashioned (R)

The crowd – a mix of regulars, foreigners and young city slickers seem at ease as the sip on drinks and munch on the salted peanuts that arrive at the table once we settle in. Ambient golden lighting bathes the place as luxuriously comfortable booths and dark wood set the mood. As our eyes meander through the menu to select a cocktail to commence the evening, the Guava Picante – a tequila-based spicy cocktail as well as the Cinnamon Old Fashioned catch our eye. As the drinks arrive, the old fashioned is poured from a skull-shaped bottle into a glass – making it a visual treat, creating anticipation and excitement about the libation while also taking a leaf from the old-world charm the restaurant strives to preserve.

In a conversation over email, third-generation co-founders and siblings – Divij and Dhruv Lamba say that, “Attention to detail in service has been a priority, ensuring that each guest feels valued and has a memorable visit. One of the standout features is the revamped menu, which strikes a perfect balance between classic favourites and innovative new dishes. This approach allows diners to enjoy the rich, traditional flavours that Gaylord is known for, while also exploring fresh, contemporary culinary creations that reflect current food trends and seasonal ingredients.”

Caesar Salad Chicken (L), Murgh Makhani (R)

Having previously visited the restaurant long before it acquired the makeover, the first thing that struck us about the food menu was their decision to retain old favourites like the creamy Murgh Makhani – possibly the closest one can find to Delhi’s butter chicken as well as the Caesar Salad – a continental classic which is rich and packed with flavour. “The decision to retain the restaurant’s classic offerings amidst the constantly evolving culinary landscape of the city stems from a deep appreciation for tradition and the desire to provide a sense of continuity and familiarity to long-time patrons,” the Lamba brothers say.

Also Read: 

7 Irani Cafes In South Mumbai For Legendary Food And Vintage Vibes

Adding that these classic dishes often carry a nostalgic value, evoking cherished memories and emotional connections that transcend mere taste, they believe these factors serve as a testament to the restaurant’s heritage and culinary legacy, highlighting signature recipes that have stood the test of time. “Maintaining these classics ensures that the restaurant honours its roots, while offering a stable anchor point in a dynamic food scene. Furthermore, these dishes often embody tried-and-true techniques that have consistently garnered positive feedback, ensuring their relevance and popularity even as new trends emerge,” they quip.

Chicken A La Kiev (L), Baked Mac N Cheese (R)

Kicking off the eating with their Soya Champ Tikka – a tender, well-seasoned starter with a cheesy surprise in the centre, the small plates also arrived with a fiery-looking, garlic-forward Prawn Rechado with the plumpest prawns bursting with fresh seafood flavour. This, followed by the chicken Caesar became what was probably an ideal precursor to Gaylord’s generously portioned mains. Since its reopening, the menu finds itself accommodating 15 new dishes, some of which are available for diners to sample at breakfast. A tray of bubbly macaroni and cheese with a crisp crust leaves us wide-eyed, until we bit into a floret of cauliflower that we thought didn’t do much to elevate the cheesy classic.

That said, Divij and Dhruv – whose personal favourite – the Chicken a la Kiev stuffed with mushrooms and cheese has been one of the popular hits for as long as the space has existed, also add that, “We’ve kept all the favourite Indian and Continental dishes, alongside exciting new creations from our chefs. It’s a celebration of Gaylord’s legacy with a fresh twist for today’s palates.” And a celebration it is! From the continental menu, the perfectly cooked Pomfret Meuniere blanketed in lemon butter echoed the joy of enjoying proximity to the ocean – all polished with the creamiest mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables.

The Meuniere is easily among the top contenders for being a great date-night option, especially if a first date is intended to impress! Punctuating the eating with a second round of cocktails, we ordered the Bloody Maria – think Bloody Mary but with tequila, as well as a bright and zesty Yuzu Sour – a gin-based drink made with young turmeric, citrus and honey. As we reflected on the progression of the meal thus far, what was most striking about the experience was how true the food and service were to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy.

Chicken Club Sandwich (L), Kebab Platter (R)

At a time when aesthetics and social media dominate culinary experiences in urban settings, Gaylord remains unfazed by competition. However, like everything else, the commitment to holding one’s ground comes with its own challenges. The sibling duo elaborate that, “One major challenge is maintaining the authenticity and traditional charm of the restaurant while adapting to contemporary digital trends. The ambience of Gaylord, characterized by its classic décor and elegant atmosphere, must be preserved without seeming outdated in an era where modern, minimalist designs often dominate social media platforms.”

Delving further they say, “The rise of food delivery apps and the trend towards convenience-based dining present a challenge for a restaurant like Gaylord, which prides itself on the dine-in experience. Balancing the need to offer takeout and delivery options without compromising on the presentation and quality of the dishes is crucial. Ensuring that the food retains its integrity and appeal when consumed off-premises requires careful packaging and meticulous attention to detail. For a restaurant that values its timeless appeal, striking a balance between staying relevant and preserving its heritage can be challenging.”

Divij and Dhruv are also quick to point out that fostering a sense of community and personal connection in a digitally-driven world can be difficult. The personal touch and intimate customer service that define the experience at the restaurant must translate into the digital realm and hence, engaging with customers on social media, responding to reviews and creating content that reflects the warmth and hospitality of the in-person dining experience have also become top priority. Between bites of creamy, deeply complex dal makhani and laccha paratha that would easily melt even the coldest hearts, it becomes prominent that Gaylord does not rely on being young and relevant – rather, it aims to provide familiarity in comfort.

We quiz the brothers about how they would put forth the purpose and concept of the restaurant to diners who might be oblivious to its star-studded clientele and its contribution to Mumbai’s dining culture; to which they say, “Our restaurant has been a cornerstone of fine Indian dining for decades, renowned for its authentic recipes passed down through generations and meticulously crafted to perfection. In an age where lifestyle choices are heavily influenced by digital exposure, Gaylord stands as a beacon of timeless elegance and culinary excellence, providing a unique and memorable dining experience that bridges the past and present.”