Gaylord in Mortimer Street W1, just off Portland Place, is a large and elegant special occasion Indian restaurant with heavy white tablecloths, thick carpet and courteous service. The beautiful menu is presented in the form of a hardback portrait book in an elegant bronze colour palette, with metallic detailing and raised type.
This lavishness and attention to detail is a sign of what’s to come when you dine at this hallowed institution – the sort of place that Indian families have been going to for years, but I have only just discovered.
Indeed, this year Gaylord is celebrating its 50th anniversary and to mark the occasion has launched its own-label sparkling wine.
We savoured this bubbly deliciousness while we nibbled on poppadums and chutney and perused the menu. Our charming waiter encouraged us to try Golgappa shots – not the kind we are used to, but little glasses filled with a spicy herbal liquid that you pour into a kind of hollowed-out crisp profiterole and eat in one bite.
We followed these with wonderful lamb chops, rubbed in a heady mix of spices and grilled, Peshwari naan generously filled with nuts and raisins, gently spiced tandoori tilapia (fish), chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice.
Indian restaurants do veggie dishes so well, and the cauliflower in light crisp batter was a total winner for us.
We also devoured sag aloo potatoes with spinach and a fabulous scrambled cottage cheese with tomatoes.
We finished off this feast with kulfi – sweet little patties dowsed in sugar syrup – a traditional Indian dessert served with milky ice cream in blocks.
79 Mortimer Street,
London W1W 7SJ
020 7580 3615
New place in town
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure. There’s a lot to be said for home-cooked food in a basic setting, served
with warmth and paid for with cash. This is the offering at Osteria Ovada, a little gem tucked away in a side street off the Finchley Road that you will most probably never have heard of, let alone had cause to venture down.
Wine producer Paolo Cometa opened the restaurant eight months ago as a hobby, because he loves food. It’s a small, dimly-lit room with pared down décor – wooden tables, rustic chairs and bare brick walls. The kitchen is open, the wine is stacked high and the antipasti is displayed on the counter as you walk in.
Roasted peppers and courgettes, tomatoes with mozzarella, sliced aubergine parmigiana and whatever else has been cooked that day is brought to the table with a basket of bread. Tuck in and savour with a glass of red (Dolcetto, Barbera or Nebbiolo from Cometa’s own vineyards in Piemonte, near the town of Ovada in Italy) or white (Gavi – produced by a friend).
There’s no menu as such – the head waiter, who worked at Villa Bianca for 25 years and came out of retirement to work with Cometa, reels off a list of the day’s dishes – wild mushroom risotto, sea bass or sea bream simply pan fried, a tender piece of lamb with rosemary and caramelised shallots, calves’ liver with olive oil and sage, a wonderful steak – all served with chunky skin-on potatoes and a beautiful, fresh salad. Large portions, beautifully cooked and simply presented.
Dessert is crème caramel, tiramisu or dark chocolate cake with strawberries. It’s the kind of meal you go in search of on holiday, and it’s right here in NW3.
3 Rosemont Road, London NW3 6NE
020 7435 8080
On the side
Make your own
IKEA is launching a DIY pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch, where you can invite up to 19 of your friends for a meal. Until 25 September, the N&C Showrooms in Shoreditch High Street will be transformed into The Dining Club, where 38 Londoners will get the chance to host a Scandi-inspired meal in a private dining space. With the help of IKEA food experts, you’ll choose the menu and, on the day, you and your guests will prepare the meal with the help of a professional chef. The washing up will be done for you while you get on with eating and, best of all, it’s totally free! IKEA is also hosting food workshops, and there is a kitchen showcase so you can get inspiration on sprucing up your space. There’s also an all-day café serving Scandi dishes, such as pulled salmon rolls and smorgasbords.
Newly-opened KERB permanent street food market in Camden takes street food to a whole new level with 35 stalls serving a fantastic range of mouth-watering dishes, all cooked fresh right in front of you. Some really innovative ideas too – halloumi fries being the best of the bunch for me, and carrot cake ice cream coming a close second. Mac ‘n’ cheese fans will love The Mac Factory stall and I have it on good authority that the best burger in London is right there at Burger and Beyond.
Movie and munch
As the days shorten and the temperature drops, the autumn movies get released and a trip to the cinema is in order. Combining a movie with a meal out makes it a double treat and a cinema with restaurant attached makes it so easy. The Picturehouse in Crouch End is a particular favourite of mine for this and it has just added haddock and chips with pea purée to an already great menu, plus lamachun – a traditional Turkish flatbread with lamb and pomegranate.