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Chef Switches to Curry, Whisky From Hot Dogs, Champagne

Karam Sethi
Karam Sethi plans to open a restaurant inspired by the gymkhana clubs created by the British in India. He was born in England to Indian parents. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg.

The chef and restaurateur who helped Londoners discover their inner yearning for hot dogs with Champagne at Bubbledogs now plans to treat Mayfair diners to the whiskies and spicy foods served at gymkhana clubs in India.

“They were sports and social clubs set up by the British Raj in India,” said Karam Sethi, 28, who holds a Michelin star at Trishna and backed the opening of Bubbledogs last year. “They were grand clubs, a place for the elite to socialize.”

The menu will be based on traditional Indian fare from the tandoor oven and sigri charcoal grill, using British ingredients. The bar will feature spirits, tonics and mixers from India, as well as whiskies and old Indian punch recipes.

Chef Atul Kochhar tried something similar at Colony Bar & Grill, which he opened with the restaurateur Carlo Spetale in 2010. Kochhar quit a year later. Sethi has been more fortunate with his recent venture: There are long lines of people waiting to sample Bubbledogs.

Sethi said in an interview he is expecting the average spending at Gymkhana to be about 50 pounds ($75). The restaurant is scheduled to open on Albemarle Street in early July or late August. Sethi’s sister Sunaina, who is the sommelier at Trishna, opened the Pearson Room restaurant in Canary Wharf in May. Their parents are from Delhi and moved to London in the 1970s.

The decor at Gymkhana will reflect the grandeur of the colonial gentlemen’s clubs, with an Old East India Punch Tavern on the ground floor, with private booth seating for groups, and a further bar in the basement vaults, Sethi said.

“I am trying to take the elements of the gymkhana club, not to replicate them but as the inspiration,” he said. “The bar has a very convivial atmosphere, a lot of beers on tap, a really good whisky selection.”

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Martin Gayford on European art, Jorg von Uthmann on Paris culture and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.

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