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 ...

Comments

Abhishek said…
I have been to gaylords probably like two times :( and have never eaten the food there. Of those couple of times, I have had their pastries and I must say they were really yum. One of my friends who is a townie introduced me to this place and their chocolate cake was bliss... And now with your description of the food..I am sure to try it on my next trip to mumbai.. I think am gonna use your blog as my food guide ;)
Scarlett said…
I used to go to Gaylord's whenever I wanted chocolate chip muffins. On a rainy day, hot chocolate chip muffins are divine :)
Anonymous said…
Never been to Bombay but this sort of reminds me of old-world Flury's. :)
The knife said…
Scarlett...hot chocolate chip muffin, hot coffee, rains...bellisomo (not sure what it means sounds good :)
Legally alien: Its more a Kwality sort of place and the look is similar to Floriana when it opened in the mid nineties
The knife said…
@Abhishek...the Gaylord cake shop is still there. K and I had a croissant there years back when we worked in town. Singed my fingers. Hope you make a trip back to Mumbai soon
Anaggh A. Desai said…
Nice & quite true of Gaylord! I think I have stopped eating there after 2001; but a visit to town & if no lunch meeting (happened twice in May 09)they have a lovely section outside. Am hoping to do it during monsoon - Finish meetings by afternoon; drive past trident, pick up a hot desi bhutta, finish it, land up at gaylords by 2.30-3pm have a nice hot chicken & cheese sandwich or their club sandwich watching rain fall & people hurry to their offices or whatever & then by 4 leave stopping just a couple of minutes to pickup a nice ice cream from K Rustomjee before heading home via the sealink I hope! And Yes the Wife is definitely coming.....
The knife said…
Great plan Anaggh, enjoy your date :) I dislike most outdoor seating places in Mumbai. The city is too hot and grimy for that. But Gaylord should be different as it is in kissing distance of Marine Drive
The knife said…
Its been ages since one has been to K Rustom. I remember the ice cream dribbling all over me the last I went there :)
The Nomad said…
The first time I went to Peter Cat, I was very confused about what would a sizzler be without rice or noodles. The answer was delicious. I love the place and have been there many times since.
Serendipity said…
Peter Cat??
Im a sucker for the chocolate tart and the chicken plait (used to be 20 bucks for that giant when we were in Junior college. Needless to say we all ordered it) and lately the plain muffin. (PLEASE TRY THIS - HEATED)

The chocolate muffin at Gaylord doesnt have chocolate chips. Ive done a PHD in town eateries so Im sure. :D

On an aside, have the chocolate Mousse cake at IVY!!

And its so funny, Im the townie friend Abhisheks tlaking about :D:D
The knife said…
Nomad, after lot of experiments my verdict is that sizzlers are best had with French Fries only ...btw, the Kobe's, Yoko's circuit offers noodles as an extra and rices comes with shashlik

@Serendipity, now I don't to start an inter office war on the chocolate chips but muffins without melted choc chips inside are not quite the same.

I think Abhishek's entering a flight to Mumbai as we speak

Peter Cat is a restaurant in Cal's Park Street from the same genre as Gaylord. Dark and gloomy, red rexine seat covers famous for its chelo kebab
My dad used to take me there for Cona coffee when I was a teenager ...my dentist was next door ...so through the braces phase, I tanked up on chicken a la kiev and cola floats! there is no replacement for old school club food now!
The knife said…
Hey Parul,

Thanks for writing in.

I used to meet my dad at the AAEI Club at Calcutta at another life time. Used to have the grilled pork chops if I remember right ( I was 8 then)

I used to go to a dentis in Calcutta where the hight point was visiting a South Indian Joint called Rim Jhim which was close be. Once dragged my grandpa in the floods after we saw that the dentist was shut.

In this lifetime I am still fortunate enough to enjoy old club food as a very close friend/ uncle of ours is a member of Yacht Club and has a big heart.

Cheers,

Kalyan
Anand said…
Mondy's over Gaylords any day!
Anonymous said…
Dear Kalyan!
Greetings!
As I read your very interesting report on Gaylord (the more for it that it was very objective) I remembered that last night they actually show the Gay Parade on Japanese TV. I'm not gay and I don't care. Some of my friends, gentlemen and ladies are, so what?
I was surprised last night to learn that it was illegal in India....
Well, India is fast becoming not only a big but "unavoidable", as we say in French (compliment!) member of the International Community and it's great to see that your country is modernizing rapidly. In Japan it is a bit easier on the Indian nationals as shown by the cricket teams that regularly cometo Shizuoka all the way down from Tokyo. They include memebers of all ages, castes and religions and no one has to worry! We just play cricket and really enjoy it! Incidentally Shizuoka has become a very popular venue as our club is very cosmopolitan and open-minded. For example you don't have to drink alcohol to enjoy the after match gatherings!
Indian gastronomy is fast becoming a reference all over the world and it's a pleasure to discover so many Indian foodies at Foodbuzz!
Cheers,
Robert-Gilles
Sharmila said…
Kalyan ... before I could write anything saw the snap on the header ... and before I could say 'wow!' I had to say 'eeewww'. :-( See those two ants squished on the luchis? :-( You may not publish this comment if you want to ... but do take a look at that snap. Sorry ... but couldn't help this feedback.
I love that you said the Goan prawn curry sucked! I feel like not enough blogs are willing to say when something is terrible. That's what blogs are for - real honest information! High Five!
Manasi said…
I didn't notice the ants :)I would eat luchis regardless!
The knife said…
Hey Sharmila, thanks for pointing it out. Like Manasi, I didn't notice them and ate them too. To top it wrote a review of the place which won me a prize (which I never redeemed). Changed the picture - these is one of the delis of Istanbul

@Anand...I never took to Mondy's :(
The knife said…
Dear Robert Giles,

Thanks a lot for dropping by and sharing youe experience. It was an eye opener for me and I would never have imagined anyone cricket.

I think the way Japan has grown in soccer is remarkable.

Japanese food is getting popular in India too though it tends to be expensive at times. We Indianise everything and you even get vegetarian sushi in India made with cucumber and carrots! I am fond of sashimi and tempura too. We have a dish called 'pakora' in India which is similar to tempura. pakoras refer to anything batter fried in gram flour and deep fried. I love prawn tempuras

I totally agree with you on gay rights. I am not gay but I don't see why sexual choices of adults have to be monitored by the state. In this case India follows a law written by the British when they ruled India.

I visited japan when I was five and hope to go back someday.

Cheers,

Kalyan
The knife said…
@ Jessica, high five to you too. i hate reviews which sound like, and possibly are, advertorials
The knife said…
@ Jessica, high five to you too. i hate reviews which sound like, and possibly are, advertorials
Bong Mom said…
I love your header pic, did you click the pic ?

Nice review I should say
The knife said…
Thank Bong Mom...yes I took the picture at Istanbul. Loved the delis there. You could read about them at http://finelychopped-k.blogspot.com/search/label/Turkish%20treats if you are interested. I love the look of your blog and will probably write to you for tips
Miri said…
My brother's 5th birthday cake was from Gaylords - something I bring up even today to make my Dad feel guilty - we lived in Matunga - imagine ordering a cake all the way from Churchgate. And then seven years later along comes a daughter who doesnt even have a fifth birthday party!!! ;)

I used to always finish off a meal at Gaylords with the icecream from the Parsi Dairy farm next door.
The knife said…
aaaw, that must've hurt... i hope all the ice creams made up for it later. Did you mean the sandwich ice creams of Rustoms by any chance.

My in laws were telling me that Gaylords cakes were THE thing