Often summoning queues to rival those of BAO and Dishoom, Gunpowder’s Spitalfields site has been a hit with the London dining scene. The owners subsequently opened upmarket curry house Gul & Sepoy and Chinese-Himalayan fusion restaurant Madame D, which gained a Michelin Bib Gourmand. This expansion proved to be merely a flash in the pan, however. Both restaurants, a stone’s throw from Gunpowder, are now closed.
But having launched in September last year, Gunpowder’s second site is going strong. Gunpowder Tower Bridge is located in a new development a few paces from the river. Inside, with textures of leather and wood, the restaurant has traditional touches. However, with exposed vents and an expansive glass frontage, it is undeniably modern.
Sat on a high table, we studied the menu. As seems to be the case with the majority of trendy Asian restaurants, the dishes are served whenever they’re ready - with an emphasis on sharing.
The procession of plates, arriving one to three at a time, were a treat for the eyes as well as the stomach. With a generous covering of yoghurt, their aloo chaat is similar to a very creamy potato salad, albeit with a hoisin-like tamarind chutney laced over the top (not at all the Bombay potatoes-style dish we were expecting).
Fried in what appeared to be a lentil flour batter, the soft shell crab has the quality of lightness you get with really good buttermilk fried chicken. Like the batter, the addition of the chutney sauce is restrained, making for a beautifully balanced dish.
The chefs here are nothing if not inventive, with a spicy venison and vermicelli “doughnut” showing just what they’re capable of. Its panko-like texture gives it the appearance of a sea urchin. More importantly, the contrast of crunchy vermicelli and succulent venison makes it a memorable plate. However, what sets this dish alight is the beautifully fiery fennel and chilli chutney (which is actually more of a dipping sauce).
The lamb chops, for which Gunpowder is renowned, are cooked to perfection. They boast an ever so slightly charred, barbecue flavour on the outside but are beautifully soft and succulent under the surface.
While not as moist, the Kerala beef provided more of the flavours traditionally associated with the Indian subcontinent. An explosion of spices, it paired perfectly with their wonderfully fluffy steamed rice. Meanwhile, a Jenga-like pile of crispy pork ribs provided all-evening grazing.
The dessert menu brings more of the traditional, this course courtesy of in-house bakery Custard. Finishing with Oreo paneer cheesecake and chocolate brownie, the best “sweet” was in fact the Gimlet. Their take on a citrusy Gin cocktail, it also has a hint of ginger and is worth the trip in itself.
A few of the price points are a little high, with the lamb chops costing £15 ($20) for a minimum of two pieces. They also appear larger in their book, Gunpowder: Explosive Flavours from Modern India, which retails at £19.99 ($26). However, as experts of Indian food, Gunpowder's place among London restaurant royalty is rightly deserved.