I do love an Indian restaurant that plays Bollywood music. Not the populist cheap item songs (Google it) but the classic melodious numbers that play quietly in the background. They stir up sweet memories of growing up, listening to these songs; the nostalgia warmly tugging at your heart. My feelings within the first few minutes of sitting inside the shiny new Tower Bridge branch of Gunpowder were just that.
I am ashamed to admit I am a Gunpowder virgin. For some reason, I have not managed to visit this restaurant up until now.
First, the interiors. Gunpowder occupies one of the prime spots of the newly developed One Tower Bridge, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Rosa’s Thai Cafe (you can read my review here), By Chloe and The Ivy Tower Bridge. The restaurant has about 60 covers, split across two levels. This is the second restaurant from the husband/wife team of Harneet and Devina Baveja; the kitchen led by Executive Chef Nirmal Save. Inside, it is spacious, contemporary and informal with a mixture of booths, bar stools and table seating. The interiors are designed by Block 1, characterised by interweaving tones of warm reds, dark browns and black.
They have rejigged the Indian-inspired menu to include some old favourites from the Spitalfields branch and a few new creations.
We were visiting during the opening week but already the queues were snaking around the building.
We ordered a range of small plates, including:
- Chicken Lollipop Madras Style
- Spicy Venison and Vermicelli Doughnut with Fennel and Chilli Chutney
- Egg Curry Masala
- Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops
- Kerala Beef Pepper Fry
- Aunty Sulu’s Rabbit Pulao
We couldn’t have asked for a better start than with the mind-blowing Lamb Chops. It was love at first bite! Gunpowder’s lamb chops are the ones to beat all other lamb chops. My blogger friend Priyam (of Travell1ingSoul) mentioned many moons ago that these would be the best I will ever have and she was so right! They were simply divine – really succulent, really tasty with the soft meat literally tumbling off the bone. The flavours were absolutely banging and every mouthful made you crave for even more! The dish was further enlivened with the accompaniment of a delicious and well-executed coriander and mint chutney, full of fresh, zingy flavours. It was definitely our headline dish of the evening.
Next to arrive was the Venison – Vermicelli Doughnut. It was quite an unexpected, unique looking dish. The spherical, hay-coloured pastry on the outside was nice, thin and crispy. But when cut open, it revealed a soft interior engorged with a deep, full-flavoured keema (minced meat). The meat itself was was nicely spiced, reminiscent of home cooked flavours, but at the same time not intolerably hot.
Kris tried the Beef Pepper Fry. The beef was cooked very well. It was a semi-dry dish with tender and delicately spiced meat, not something that will clobber you over the head.
Other dishes arrived in quick succession. The Chicken Lollipop was the other dish that came highly recommended. On this occasion, I found the chicken slightly dry but the flavours were delightful.
We dived into the Rabbit Pulao, which was like a biryani in looks and consistency. It was a fairly decent portion, big enough to share between two people. If you order this, you don’t need to order another rice bowl to accompany your dishes. It came with three different types of grains and was flecked with crispy onions, sultanas and generous chunks of rabbit meat. It was moderately spiced and would be a good accompaniment to the more fiery dishes on the menu. But you can equally chow it down on its own.
The Egg Curry Masala resonated well with its texture and taste. It was warming, rich, slightly sweet from the tomatoes and spicier than the other dishes on the table.
Being soft launch week, service was a bit rushed but polite and pleasant.
All in all, our dinner at Gunpowder was absolutely sensational and full of good food vibes. It is definitely up there with one of the best Indian restaurants in London. But don’t come here expecting conventional curries; instead, stay for those inventive and perfectly composed small plates.
Believe in the hype and prepare to queue; the food is totally worth it!
Location: 4 Duchess Walk, London, SE1 2SD
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photos and opinions are mine. We dined during the restaurant’s soft launch period.