You go to enough brunches and you start to expect to find certain items on the menu. With luck, and a skillful chef, you might get one or maybe two items that rise above the usual suspects.
At American Gymkhana, which indeed has a skillful chef in Aarthi Sampath, the entire brunch menu is filled with inventive creations that give a nod to classic brunchtime fare but stay true to the Indian theme.
Take the French Toast Gymkhana, for example. Instead of using a white bread, as in a classic French toast recipe, Sampath uses naan. The Indian bread, of course, is not as spongy as a white western bread so the texture is more akin to hardier crepe. But when filled with the cinnamon-raisin mawa, it becomes a sweet treat. A brilliant invention.
I also liked the Lamb & Eggs, which is sort of a Benedict sort of presentation with an Indian twist. The lamb was slow cooked, shredded and served atop pao bread. The eggs were perfectly poached and topped with green pea puree. They were accompanied by Masala Potato Wedges, sort of big, thick roasted potatoes with myriad spices.
The Black Cardamom & Hickory Smoked Lamb Bacon was another inventive offering. The strips of lamb meat were prepared more like a jerky, but the effect was definitely baconesque, and I loved it.
Of course when you talk about brunch you must talk about cocktails. Hemant Pathak, the beverage director for sister restaurant Junoon in New York, has created a couple of doozies. Mumbai Mary is his take on the classic Bloody Mary, but instead of the usual Tabasco or Worcestershire sauces, Pathak makes his own sauce with a special blend of house-toasted spices. It turns a Bloody Mary into an icy glass of fire. The taste is similar to rasam, the spicy south of South India, only chilled and with vodka.
If you prefer something less incendiary, try the Bellini, classic with the peach nectar but made unique with a tinge of ginger.
All of this in the lovely American Gymkhana setting (it's very nice on the verandah; you can even choose to sit on the comfy couches there), and served by the affable staff. In case you missed the explanation of what a gymkhana is and the relationship the Orlando restaurant has with Junoon in New York, you can read my initial review of American Gymkhana.
The brunch price is pretty dandy, too. You get an entree and side plus two brunch drinks for $25 plus tax and tip. That's a good price anywhere; when you're talking about this type of quality, it's an especial bargain.
And you don't have to wait until Sunday — American Gymkhana serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
American Gymkhana is at 7559 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Phone is 407-985-2900.