New restaurants open daily however when the rumours started about Gunpowder; it piqued our interest. Reason being, this restaurant hasn’t been opened by a chef who’s been around the block, or by a chef turned restauranteur. This restaurant was opened by a young and ambitious person and is proof that anyone can do it if you get the menu right. Gunpowder is owned by Harneet Baweja (also a pleasure to meet) who is a restauranteur from Kolkata and that echoes in the food served here. Speaking of the food, it is being cooked by Nirmal Save who is an ex-Tamarind chef. Anyone who’s been to Tamarind has the knowledge that Harneet has made an excellent choice.
We’ll start off with the slight low point and that would be the reservation system. We can put this down to the restaurant being fairly new however at one point, an hour after putting our name down for a table, we were told (at 10pm) that we’d have to eat elsewhere. After having a discussion with the staff, this was swiftly rectified and we were sitting in no time, ordering most of the menu!
Now to the high point and that’s nearly everything that we ate. The first thing to arrive was the Rasam Ke Bomb and think of this like golgappa or pani puri. Essentially it’s a crisp hollow pastry ball filled with spiced potato and sits atop a shot glass full of fragrantly spiced water. Eat this however you like but it’s a great start. Next up was the Chutney Cheese Sandwich and we’re yet to find anyone who doesn’t like a cheese toastie. Add the indian flavour of a chutney and you have yourself a winner. Up next were the Nagaland House Crispy Pork Ribs with Tamarind Kachumber and these were succulent plus lip-smackingly good. If the ribs were good then you’ll be taken aback by the lamb chops. These are aptly named Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops and you’ll be sad you didn’t order two each; take that as some first-hand advice. Perfectly cooked, spiced to perfection and could easily take the crown from Gymkhana as the best chops in town. If we were to use price as a factor then the chops at Gunpowder certainly are at number 1. Following these came the Chettinad Pulled Duck served with Homemade Oothappam. An oothappam is made from the same batter as a dosa and is like a savoury pancake. This ‘pancake’ is filled with the pulled duck and had a zingy salad on the side. A lovely little dish but down in the pecking order after those chops. To accompany these dishes we ordered the Saag with Tandoori Paneer and the Aromatic Rice in Banana Leaf. The Saag (spinach curry) with Tandoori Paneer was excellent and some of the best we’ve had. Coupled with the Aromatic Rice and our main dishes were rounded off perfectly.
Dessert involved ordering all of them and they were each great in their own way. Old Monk Rum Pudding was the alcohol filled bread and butter pudding you’ve always wanted. The Molten Spice Chocolate Cake with Masala Chai Custard was a joy. Chocolate cake and custard is an asset on any menu but couple it with a spicy undertone and you’ll be very happy. Finally the Passion Fruit and Mint Granita was the palette cleanser we needed. Fresh and tangy yet sweet, the perfect end to a great meal.
Gunpowder has got a lot of things right and if you’re after Indian food but don’t want the bloated feeling afterwards, this place is hard to beat. It reminds us of a an Indian tapas restaurant (Kricket in Brick Lane is another new kid on the block eschewing the same theme) and we love tapas and we love Indian food. The service is excellent, the food is fantastic, the service is great and we weren’t hit by an unreasonably large bill. Dishoom should be looking over its shoulder worryingly.
11 White’s Row, London E1 7NF