When I visited Junoon, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan, owner Rajesh Bhardwaj told me that his goal was not to have an Indian restaurant but to have a restaurant that served Indian cuisine. The distinction is more than subtle, it puts the emphasis on the dining experience to break down the stereotype of the average Indian restaurant. Junoon is no average Indian restaurant; it offers an extraordinary dining experience with a menu that is based on tradition but creative and exotic as well.
It was Bhardwaj's goal to do the same thing in Orlando when the owners of Raga called upon him to take over the business and make it the restaurant they had originally wanted but had accomplished with only limited success. After some cajoling by the owners, Bhardwaj agreed to take on the task. The result is American Gymkhana, a fine dining experience with an Indian flavor.
The name is derived from the sports clubs popular during the raj where the British and India's social elite would meet. The decor, which has been completely reworked from the Raga days, is less like the typical gymkhana of dark wood paneling. It's less masculine, more elegant and very comfortable. The open kitchen remains, and there's something less masculine there, too.