Life before Gay Parades... Gaylord

Gaylord at Churchgate, is a Mumbai landmark.

It belongs to an era where Trincas, Peter Cat, Mocambo in Calcutta and Kwality here were aspirational.

An era where 'gay' meant being happy.

My first tryst with Gaylord was soon after I began working here in '97. I had some work in town on a Saturday. Office would pay for lunch, within 'reasonable limits', if you were working on Saturday. I asked my P G (Paying Guest) room mate to suggest a restaurant. My fellow out of towner, suggested Gaylord. I went there and ordered a single dish and fell of the chair when I got the bill. I don't remember the amount but it was not the seventy Rupees which continental restaurants in Calcutta used to charge in those days. Probably crossed a hundred and twenty Rupees or so.

I remember I had a tough time convincing my boss that I did not take a date or have a drink and that I had just ordered one dish. My voucher was eventually cleared and I felt suitably chastened.

We considered Gaylord for the family dinner for our wedding before we went in for Gallops.

The twenty first century marched on since then with a slew of continental restaurants opening up and suburbs such as Bandra, Andheri taking the focus away from South Mumbai.

Frankly I had forgotten about Gaylord till we went there for my father in law's Parsi birthday last week. It was fairly crowded for a weekend evening. The crowd was primarily what one would call the 'family crowd'... loyalists, not necessarily uber cool.

The decor was so different from what one sees. Very nineteenth century. In a good way. I am a sucker for the past after all. You had olive oil paintings on the wall... redolent of medieval Europe. I am sure that if I looked closely I would have seen a freeze of Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia hunting in the Quorn. Or Elizabeth spurning Mr Darcy. Chandeliers, white chairs with trellis patterns summed it up. I have some dubious cell phone pictures. I won't subject you to the food pictures as they did not come out well. But the picture below give you an idea of the layout.

The waiters looked like they were there from ages. They weren't young and urbane but knew their stuff which was heartening and rare. And it looked like they took a personal interest in your having a good time. For example a fish dish we ordered wasn't there but the person taking our order went at lengths to explain the merits of an alternate dish. Then again, while serving the food, he insisted on serving a dish to people who were in two minds, trying to tempt them to have a bite, saying that they would not regret it. This sort of insistence and forcefulness is very typical of Indian hospitality when you are a guest at some one's home.

The food? It ranged from inspired to patchy. I had a Portuguese chicken which was very nice. Cubes of chicken, which were unexpectedly leg pieces (praise the lord) in a nice pepper and sliced onion, brown sauce with rice and mash. Each bite was bouncy and, well, gay. My pa in law had a roast lamb. I quite liked the quality of the lamb (very tender) and the sauce. He felt it was a bit sweet and could have been spicier. Kainaz was in a kebab mood and had malai tikkas which were fairly tasty and sheekh kebabs which were surprisingly nice and tender. 'Surprisingly' because we are normally not too fond of sheekh kebabs.

My Mom in laws Goan prawn curry sucked. The curry was very spicy and more Keralite than Goan. She felt that the prawns weren't too fresh. Mama ordered an Irish vegetable stew which he seemed to enjoy. I didn't touch it! We ordered a cheese chilly toast as a starter which was a bit lame as the cheese was brittle and didn't infuse into the toast.

The prices of most dishes were around Rs 200 and wouldn't shock anyone today. As you could make out from our fare, they serve Indian and Continental food.

Booking your table in advance is not a bad idea given the crowd even on a working day.

PS Bengaluru and Chennai saw big Gay Parades on 28th June, Sunday. This coincided with the government finally speaking of revoking the archaic article 377 which dubs homosexuality as illegal. India's coming of age finally ...