Award-winning restaurant designers, B3 Designers have continued their working relationship with the Sethi family (owners of the award-winning restaurant Trishna, consultants for the highly acclaimed Bubbledogs and more recently consultants for The Pearson Room) to create Gymkhana, a new restaurant and bar in the heart of Mayfair. B3 Designers brief was to create both the interior look/feel and the brand identity for Gymkhana. The 160 square metres, 110 cover, dining space set on two floors is inspired by the Colonial Indian gymkhana clubs, set up by the British Raj, where members of high society came to socialise and play sport. Renowned for their excellent tandoori and chatpatta food and sense of conviviality, Sethi bring the clubs’ dining culture to Mayfair.
The aesthetic for the Gymkhana identity is drawn from prevalent sports at India’s Gymkhana such as cricket, polo and equestrian as well as expressions of tradition, opulence through the use of crests and ornate detailing. These elements have been integrated into the menu, which features the cricket ball triple-stitch border, as well as the sectional dividers, which are reminiscent of the ornate detailing of traditional Indian jewellery and henna patterns. The colour palette combines nostalgic sepia tones with textured, vibrant blues, greens and reds referencing the sporting inspiration. This is also echoed in the materiality of the interior design featuring rich leather tones and the menu holders, which also have the triple cricket stitch border. The logo itself is inspired by the idea of a team crest, and the location features in the signage and stationery, celebrating Gymkhana as a meeting place with a convivial spirit.
The interiors brief for Gymkhana was to ‘walk into the age of the British Raj India’ with a strong mix of Indian and British cultural and design references. B3 Designers have greatly attributed this with dark, stained oak flooring, high ceiling fans that hang from a dark-lacquered oak ceiling, low-cut glass wall lamps from Jaipur, hunting trophies from the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Grandmother Sethi’s barometer. Evocative of the gymkhana clubs, the dining room is flanked by turned oak booths with marble tables surrounded by fluted, buttoned and metal pin details dark, luxurious leather banquettes. Brass edged tables and rattan chairs sprinkle the main dining space that is adorned with Punch sketches, Indian sports prints and Air India postcards.
Mottled and lead sheets of framed glass create ambient screening throughout the dinning space. At the very back of the ground floor, a large bianco carrara marble top bar stands before an antique window mirror panel work providing a theatrical backdrop to the room. The lower ground floor is a modern day interpretation of a 17th Century East India punch house, with a grand aged brass bar at its heart with solid timber front regency style panelling. The room features slatted oak wall panelling, porcelain chequerboard floor tiles and inky blue leather love booths and banquettes, whilst two secluded, sunken vaults will seat larger groups. People can dine at the bar counter or in the intimate ‘love booth’ seating sofas.
Mark Bithrey, owner and chief designer at B3 Designers:
“This is our forth project with the Sethi brother’s and family; we are thrilled to be working in close collaboration with such visionary clients. One of the biggest challenges was creating a defined and impactful shop-front on Albermarle Street, particularly with it being in Westminster, we had limited space. We were able to do this by creating a strong brand identity as well as a simple and striking colour pallet, which created a distinct shop-front. It was great to have our interior and brand team working in close collaboration on aspects like this.”
Sethi’s menu is modern Indian with a focus on the tandoor oven and sigri charcoal grill. Signature dishes include club-style nashtas (Indian all-day snack fare) such as Duck egg and white crab bhurji. Dishes such as Achari roe deer chops, pickling spices, clove smoke, mustard mooli will be served roasted from the tandoor. For the first time in London, a bar will feature a range of spirits, tonics and mixers from the sub-continent including Old Monk rum, Amrut whiskey and arrack produced from coconut sap.
Signature punches derived from old recipes will be served in wax-sealed glass bottles, such as the Regent’s Punch, containing arrack, cognac and Assam tea, served with a nutmeg, grater and Champagne for dilution. The cocktail menu will include the Ooty Town Gimlet, made with Old Raj Export Gin and crystalized rose petals and a Flutterby Lassi with Butterfly Boston absinthe, cucumber and dill. To top it all off, absinthe will be served using the traditional ritual of an absinthe fountain, which steadily drips water over a sugar cube into a glass of absinthe and spices below.