Last month I visited a new Indian restaurant that opened in late 2022 on South Orange Blossom Trail, a long stretch of Orlando that is far from home but always worth the drive for good food. Gully – An Urban Indian Eatery (https://www.gullyfl.com/) has an incredible menu inspired by the street foods of Mumbai. It is full of fascinating-looking dishes that most Indian restaurants around here do not offer, but fear not, they also have plenty of familiar favorites that you can order a la carte, or off an all-you-can-eat buffet. Gully is mere blocks from my favorite Indian restaurant in Orlando, Bombay Street Kitchen, which also has a huge and unique menu that puts them streets ahead of competitors. Well, folks, I am pleased to say that Gully delivered a similar experience. I just wish they both weren’t such a schlep for me, but hopefully you will find yourself closer, so you can check either one out for yourself.
For my first and only visit to Gully (so far), there were so many things I wanted to try, but I am just one man. A man who can easily eat as much as two hungry men in a single sitting, but one man just the same (who is middle-aged and paying the price for my heroic appetite). I was so lucky that a dear friend from the Orlando Foodie Forum presented by Tasty Chomps!, a wonderful Facebook group I have been a member of for many years, organized a weekend lunch at Gully on a day I was able to join in. I met a few lovely people, all fellow foodies with adventurous appetites and generous spirits, and we had a legendary lunch and shared everything with each other — the perfect way to take in a new restaurant as exciting as Gully. Members of the Orlando Foodie Forum organized several group meals before the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which I was lucky to attend, but this was my first of these since 2019. Even though the threat of COVID is far from over and we can’t act like it is, people are getting more comfortable venturing out in public and starting to enjoy things like group meals with friends and even strangers again. Even I am. I missed it.
Gully is located in Laxmi Plaza, a small shopping center with several Indian businesses, including House of Spices, a huge Indian grocery store that we all visited after our lunch. It is awesome “one-stop shopping.” The restaurant itself has two separate dining rooms, with the all-you-can-eat buffet set up in the second dining room, off to the side. There is a lot of artwork featuring the legendary Indian actor Sanjay Dutt (who may have inspired the professional wrestling personality Sonjay Dutt, of AEW fame). While I consider myself a cinephile, I admit to not being well-versed at all in Indian films, and I don’t think I’ve seen any Sanjay Dutt movies yet. But my favorite movie to come out in 2022 was the big-budget, Telugu-language epic RRR, from India’s “Tollywood,” and it was awesome. A historical epic drama, an over-the-top action movie that practically turned into a superhero spectacular, a bromance, and a musical (with an Academy Award-nominated song), RRR has something for everyone. But I digress, and to bring things back around, Gully also has something for everyone.
For me, it is always a treat to order lassi with Indian food, those sweet, thick, creamy yogurt-based drinks that are refreshing and ideal for cutting the blistering spices. Most Indian restaurants offer plain or mango lassi, but Gully offered a lassi flight of four different flavors, and that sounded right up my alley. I was expecting little shot glasses, but the glasses were much larger than I expected. It was more than worth it to get guava, plain, strawberry, and mango lassi, and I loved them all. I sipped them throughout the meal, and it was almost like dessert in a glass (or four).
Of the six of us, one woman ordered the weekend lunch buffet, and everyone else ordered two or three dishes off the menu to share. A very nice and cool couple I met for the first time ordered this dish, the Gully samosa chaat ($8), with potato turnovers underneath a blanket of onions, chilies, tomatoes, crispy chickpea noodles, a drizzle of yogurt, and zesty spice dust.
I ordered this favorite for the table, knowing it would be a crowd-pleaser everyone would love to share: chole batura ($15) — a dish of curried chickpeas (chole) served with a puffy, fluffy, fried bread everyone can rip apart to scoop up the rich and savory chole. It was a hit in our group, as it will be in yours.
My friend ordered this mutton sukha ($12), a relatively small appetizer portion, which consisted of tender mutton, caramelized shallots, desiccated coconut, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime zest. I tried a piece that was so delicious, I would have been happy eating the whole plate.
These are lamb samosas ($10), but I’m pretty sure people snagged one or two before I could snap this shadowy photo. They are crispy fried turnovers stuffed with ground lamb shoulder, peas, and nutmeg, and served with mint yogurt tahini sauce. They were smaller than some potato-filled samosas I’ve ordered elsewhere, but this way, there were more than enough to share.
I didn’t remember what these were, so I had to reach out to the diner who ordered them. Thanks to Instagram user, local foodie, and new friend @meetmethroughfood for telling me these were called crispy onion blooms, even though those aren’t listed on the menu on Gully’s website. They were onion fritters fried in chickpea batter, similar to the onion bhaji I tried at Bombay Street Kitchen down the road.
I had a hard time deciding on a main dish for myself, so I made a last-minute, game-time decision of Parsi goat salli boti ($22), a curry made of tender goat meat, apricots, caramelized onions, poppy seeds, and slivered crispy potatoes (according to the menu, but I didn’t notice any potatoes). It was a little bit sweet from the apricots, but I love savory and sweet flavor combinations. It wasn’t spicy at all, for the benefit of sharing it with anyone interested, but I would have liked a little more heat. I’ve found that I can handle “hot” dishes at most local Indian restaurants just fine, but haven’t worked my way up to “Indian hot” yet.
I didn’t order this, but it was paneer methi chaman ($16), a vegetarian (but not vegan) curry dish of slivered paneer cheese in creamy fenugreek sauce with fried spices. I don’t think I tasted it.
Two people ordered butter chicken ($19), that beloved classic dish, but the photo I took was so blurry that it made the beautiful dish of pulled tandoori chicken in creamy, orangey tomato sauce look unappetizing, so I spared you. All these curries in the metal serving dishes came with fragrant basmati rice, as one would expect.
This was a basket of beautiful garlic naan bread ($4) we all shared, baked and seasoned to perfection.
As if the food and company weren’t great enough, our dishes were delivered to the table by a ROBOT! I understand a few Orlando restaurants are using serving robots, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one in action. Folks, I am so sorry I couldn’t get a good picture of the robot. Believe me, I am still kicking myself, because I am an ’80s kid who grew up loving friendly, helpful robots, and still has a major soft spot for them.
So that was my first Gully experience, but I hope to return when I can and work my way through the voluminous menu. Everything was top-notch. I just wish my two favorite Indian restaurants weren’t so far away, but I’ll just have to plan special trips in the future. But I can’t recommend going with friends highly enough, so you can share and maximize the delicious dishes you can all try. It’s the best way to experience a restaurant like Gully, as opposed to flying solo. That Orlando Foodie Forum has changed my life for the better over the last several years, including introducing me to some legitimate great friends and fellow culinary explorers and risk-takers. That’s where I was first inspired to start my own food blog, after some kind compliments on my writing and complaints about the quality of my photography. And since then, it has been a hell of a ride for me and my dozens of stalwart Saboscrivnerinos!