Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published October 17th 2011
With a name to bring a chuckle to the lips of every teenager wandering down Tattersalls Lane, Gaylord's presents an odd front. On the one hand, there's neat cloth napkins on each table surely the sign of a classy restaurant and a suited part-bouncer, part-waiter at the entrance. On the other hand, the clientele can be raucous and the food has a surprising amount in common with nearby cheap-and-cheerful Camy Shanghai Dumpling. What should you expect inside? Read on to find out.
The naan bread is quite decent but then it's hard to screw up naan bread and the entrιe dishes are quite good, especially the tandoori mushrooms. Don't stare down at your food the whole time, though; enjoy the kitsch surroundings. Gaylord Indian is a converted disco, and when they put up wallpaper and brought in tables they decided to leave the huge mirrors on the roof. Tacky flower vases and wall ornaments abound, too. There's even a platform in the corner where, if you're lucky, musicians will sit and play Indian music while you eat. Shouting song requests is possible but discouraged.
This guy doesn't play anything. He just stares.
As for the curries, the rule is quantity over quality. Try the butter chicken murgh makhani or the fish curry for relatively safe options. If you're tempted to order the beef curry, make sure you're feeling lucky: half the time the beef is succulent, half the time it's like chewing leather. The dal lentil soup is ultra-creamy and guaranteed to leave you with indigestion. And you can't fall back on the rice if the curry doesn't deliver, since the rice is hardly stellar itself. On that note, don't just nod when the waiter asks if you want rice for your table, or they'll overcharge you. Instead, order individual bowls of rice and share them (this means you can get some of the biryani, which isn't so bad). None of the food is expensive, though, and like Camy Shanghai Dumpling, the patrons of Gaylord Indian know they're getting what they paid for.
You'll want to order drinks first and get your bearings. Cocktails are cheap, mostly under ten dollars, but is an Indian restaurant in a Chinatown alley really the best place to mix a Japanese Slipper? Well, no, unless you want to pay ten dollars for diluted Baileys. Instead, cast your eyes over to the Indian beers, Kingfisher and Haywards 5000. Kingfisher is a thoroughly mediocre brew whose primary distinguishing feature is that the label proudly claims to be the 'King of Good Times'. You're better off just ordering a Carlton Draught. Haywards 5000, on the other hand, is delicious. It tastes partly like rotting bananas, partly like malt liquor, and nothing at all like beer. At seven point five percent alcohol, it's the perfect choice to numb your tastebuds before attacking a hot curry.
Haywards 5000: not really beer.
All in all, Gaylord Indian is more than just an Indian version of Camy Shanghai Dumpling but not much more. The drinks list is substantially better, the food is marginally less greasy, and the tables actually have napkins, so if these are things you value, go for it. It's certainly a fun night, too, if you go with a group of friends. If, on the other hand, you're expecting delicious curries, look elsewhere. Perhaps the most telling aspect of this restaurant is its clientele: on any given night, over half are young people looking for a quick dinner and a good time. For better or worse, that's what Gaylord Indian offers.