I had the pleasure of visiting Gunpowder’s sister restaurant in Shoreditch a few years back and it’s still up there with one of my favourite meals - the things they can do with an oven and an aubergine. It closed shortly afterwards (RIP Madame D) but over the years I never got around to visiting their flagpole restaurant in Spitalfields. It’s a firm favourite on the foodie circuit and unlike many restaurants, the hype hasn’t died down since opening five years ago.
Since then, Harneet Baweja has opened a second restaurant in Tower Bridge, released his own cookbook and, through lockdown, birthed a new DIY kit that can be enjoyed at home. Sick to the bone of cooking for myself, I skipped the kit for long-overdue slap-up meal at the critically acclaimed hotspot.
Never strolled down Duchess Walk before? Your eye line will inevitably be pulled towards Tower Bridge. Spare a minute to take it in; take a quick snap for the 'gram and you’ll imminently lock eyes with Gunpowder. Tall glass windows showcase the hustle and bustle of indoor diners and wooden tables for two spill out onto the cobbled streets either side of the entrance, which is where we were seated.
Gunpowder’s menu is best made for sharing, and even if you’re not a lover of the concept, this restaurant experience should be the exception to your eat out rule. With dishes coming out at different intervals, we tried the spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut (£7); hands-down the second best dish of the evening. Battered and deep-fried needle-thin spaghetti, when cut down the middle, gave way to two dome-shaped cushions of dark and well seasoned meat. The whole duck leg (£17) offered incredible value for money, smothered in an andhra style tomato sambal, topped with crispy, swirling ribbons of parsnips. The soft meat fell away from the bone with one scrape of a fork. One of the most popular vegetarian dishes on the menu, sigree-grilled mustard broccoli (£9) was a picture of charred florets under a creamy bed of bright Makhani sauce, sprinkled with mini cubes of candy-coloured pickled beetroot; for me? This addition added to the visual rather than the taste.
The best dish of the evening, however, went to the Karwari soft shell crab (£15), a winner for the batter alone. Straw-like legs and a chunky body - packed with a treasure chest of white meat - came enveloped in a crisp layer that was huge in flavour.
Dessert was a twist on a much-loved classic and one I had not had in many, many years. Some things just shouldn’t be tampered with but the old monk rum pudding (£9) twist came as a pleasant surprise and soother to the palate after so much spice. Safeguarded with a generous pouring of vanilla custard, a dozen raisins cut through the creamy texture with an ever-so-gentle gentle nudge of sweetness.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Gunpowder brings the regional flavours of India to London with an eclectic menu of dishes that take influences from spice-centric family recipes. Harneet Baweja, if you’re reading this, I am very jealous of your mealtimes as a child. Focused on the plates laid in front of us, we were silent throughout our meal, only looking up to gulp down glasses of water. A testament to the meal.
Looking for more incredible London Indian restaurants? Check out our guide here.