About Time: You Tried Brunch at GunpowderBy Alicia Grimshaw
I like Gunpowder so much, I think of myself as a self-styled Gunpowder brand ambassador (minus the cap and large foam hands). I visited Gunpowder when it first opened, and it bowled me over; the food was incredible, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was homely. If you’re interested, the full review is here. News of Gunpowder and their home-styled Indian cooking soon worked the rounds, and now there’s people queuing round the block (quite literally), to get their hands on their munch.
But I wasn’t going back for their lamb chops and their famed venison and vermicelli doughnut – I was going back for their latest menu. Brunch. It’s fair to say, Dishoom are the trailblazers of Indian brunch in London. They’ve properly nailed it – there’s a queue at weekends for a reason. But Gunpowder brings something else to the table. They bring their distinct Indian flavours to London’s burgeoning brunch scene with a unique Gunpowder twist. And like a bull to a red cloth, I couldn’t keep away. Look, I’m a sucker for a damn tasty avocado on toast, as much as the next millennial Londoner – but from time to time you need to try something a little different. If you’re tired of Eggs Benedict and need a break from overly-sweet pancakes, I can’t recommend Gunpowder enough. Here’s what you need to know:
Gunpowder: The Lowdown
Gunpowder may be small in size, but it certainly packs a punch in the flavour department. There’s a handful of tables, and a few seats by the window – there’s no rush to get you out the door to make way for the next hungry crowd. You can easily just lose a couple of hours here catching up over lunch, ordering more food, or just enjoying the vibe.
I enjoy the intimacy of Gunpowder. I enjoy the fact that the tables are in touching distance. I love this closeness; you can check out other people’s food without being remotely ashamed. It being a Saturday morning, I indulge in a spot of people watching and spying on people’s brunch dishes before choosing mine.
Gunpowder: The Food
The Food. The Food. Well, to be honest – it’s a delight for the senses. Firstly, the dishes are so well presented, and as much as the term ‘Instagram-worthy’ makes me wince, the food deserves all the camera attention. Secondly, the smell just bowls you over – punchy spices and heady mixes linger in the air, like the smell of fresh cut grass on a summer’s day.
It’s not your usual brunch. There’s no granola, not a chorizo hash in sight, but, actually you don’t miss them. In their place, there’s fantastic spicy grub, lots of great veggie dishes and incredible pancakes.
The winning dish is the chickpea pancakes with flaked coconut. The pancakes are an absolute revelation; light, moist and nicely balanced with the sweet coconut. Savoury pancakes should be more of a thing in London, and if Gunpowder’s pancakes are anything to go by, it won’t be long until other restaurants follow suit. There’s the option of adding fried eggs to the dish, which I highly recommend. Eggs on everything, I say. The pancakes are served with two chutneys – both fresh and zingy.
The Kadhai paneer parcel with crispy kale is another excellent dish, and really shows off the skill of Head Chef, Normal Save. The parcel is made with flaky pastry, and is filled with hefty chunks of paneer in a tangy homemade sauce. It’s like nothing I’ve tasted before; the kale is crispy, full of flavour, bursting with fresh chilli and a great crunch with pastry. With lots of spices and the creamy cheese, it’s not too rich at all – and, for a pastry number, incredibly moreish.
Don’t leave without trying the cardamon and ginger tea porridge. Seriously. Being the only sweet item on the menu, it carries an enormous amount of pressure for the sweet brunchers out there. But boy, did it deliver. The oats are steamed with the cardamon, before being boiled, which turns the porridge into a rice pudding-like consistency. If anything, the porridge is more of a dessert than a brunch dish. It’s so warm. So comforting. And has a real depth of flavour. The porridge really benefits from all the Indian ingredients, and proof that sometimes you don’t have to mess around with a concept too much.
If you’re after something hearty, then I suggest you get stuck into the homemade Gujiya using methi (fenugreek) pastry filled with masala beef or ballygung aloo dum (chickpeas). Both are too good. If you’re feeling slightly peaky, their Bloody Bhuta will sort you right out. Fresh chillies and mustard seeds. It’ll blow you hangover into next week.
Gunpowder: The Verdict
Indian cuisine shouldn’t be seen as only acceptable to eat for dinner – with Gunpowder showing how Indian fare is so versatile. The flavours are punchy, and the ingredients are super fresh. I can’t find fault, and the fact they can whip up a decent coffee gets all the praise in my books. If these guys ever start to sell branded t-shirts, I’d be first in line.