‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
The Gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason, why the Gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot!’
I was quite tempted to leave it there. The shortest and pithiest restaurant review – and the timeliest – in the history of The Arbuturian. But that really isn’t good enough, and so I expect that you all want to hear what happened when Larry and I braved the former no-man’s-land that is the newly developed area around Tower Bridge, which is now home to many of London’s most interesting restaurants and bars, to say nothing of the increasingly excellent Bridge Theatre.
So, we arrived at the new Gunpowder restaurant, in somewhat larger premises than its other digs near Spitalfields; a thumb of the nose to the vastly inferior restaurants of Brick Lane, perhaps. But it’s still very much cheek by jowl, as we are seated next to a boisterous party of men demolishing the dishes with comprehensive helpings of beer. And there are a very great number of foodstuffs to be perused, puzzled at in some cases, and devoured, with relish.
Gunpowder exists firmly in a world of hero dishes and Instagram-ability. Thus, a board by the door tells us what to order in order to get the most out of the restaurant. Out of the six dishes it recommends, we try four. The okra fries are fantastic; we could have eaten them all night, were it not for the pricey £6 cost. And this becomes a hallmark of the evening. Utterly superb food, but expensive, in some cases wincingly so. I’m reminded of Scott Hallsworth’s days at Kurobuta, when one could easily spend £100 a head on cocktails and food and leave neither drunk nor stuffed. This is clearly where the future is in terms of restaurant margins. We are slightly stunned to have eaten most of our meal after we’ve only been there an hour. I’m reminded of Richard Briers’ immortal comment after playing The Dane: ‘I may not have been the best Hamlet, but I was certainly the quickest.’
Oh, but what a meal. Food of this quality is worth paying top whack for, and indeed putting on every sort of social media. Don’t like the venison and vermicelli doughnut? Then you’re a fool, but try the chicken lollipops, or the succulent lamb chops (a pricey-but-worth-it £7.50 each), or the moreish mustard broccoli, or the fiery beef pepper fry. And wash the whole thing down with a mustard-infused Bloody Batra, or a glass of Pinotage. Desserts, if you have any room for them, are stunning; a rum pudding, complete with shot of rum, is something else, and a dark chocolate pudding is the stuff of naughty dreams. Especially paired with a glass of Sauternes.
So, in other words, a pricey, decadent and speedy treat. Rather like travelling on Concorde, then. And, unlike the sadly deceased transatlantic carrier, this particular gunpowder plot looks like it’s going to run and run, and we’re fairly sure that it, too, will never be forgot.
Gunpowder Tower Bridge, 4 Duchess Walk, SE1 2SD. For more information, visit gunpowderlondon.com.
Gunpowder now also serves breakfast, from 9 to 11.30am Thursday to Saturday, and Sunday brunch from 10am to 3pm, with dishes including Jeera Garlic Roosti with fried eggs and hollandaise sauce, Kolkata potato and peas Gujiya (dumplings) with fresh chutney and Cardamom pancakes with caramelised banana and honey yoghurt.