What: A new modern Indian restaurant in the One Tower Bridge development, which as the name suggests is located moments away from London’s most famous bridge. First mooted as Gunpowder Market Market for reasons that were never quite made clear, the restaurant is a follow-up to smash hit Spitalfields small plates restaurant Gunpowder.
Who: Harneet Baweja and Devina Seth and their chef Nirmal Save, whose CV includes a senior role at Tamarind Group. The trio launched Gunpowder in late 2015 as a counterpoint to the samey Bangladeshi curry houses that line nearby Brick Lane. The trio have had a torrid time of it of late. Though well-regarded, the two Spitalfields restaurants that followed Gunpowder - the Himalayan-inspired Madame D and the more upmarket Gul and Sepoy - closed earlier this summer citing an overly stretched senior team and rising costs.
Vibe: The new site is much larger than the 20-or-so-cover original with around 120-covers spread over two floors. Like the first, the sub continental references are subtle, but that’s where the design similarities end. Gunpowder mark one had a pleasingly low budget, thrown together feel but the second iteration is predictably far more polished; an effective mix of smooth concrete walls, brown and red leather banquettes, exposed M&E, ribbed glass and 70s-inspired tiling. The team will open their adjoining bakery Custard next month.
The food: Sensibly, the team have not meddled with Gunpowder’s winning formula of affordable, high impact dishes that make lesser-known Indian dishes more approachable. The menu - which is more or less a curry-free zone - is very similar to the first site in terms of both structure and content and includes Gunpowder classics such as spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut; Nagaland house crispy pork ribs with tamarind kachumber; Kashmiri-style lamb chops; and Kerala beef pepper fry.
And another thing: Gunpowder Tower Bridge has not been an easy launch for the trio. A bereavement saw key members of the back of house opening team return to India during the soft launch period. The kitchen - on our visit at least - was manned only by an exhausted Baweja and Save. Demand for the soft launch was high and difficult to manage, and was apparently further complicated by Instagram influencers demanding that all the dishes arrive at once. The restaurant is to close over the bank holiday weekend to allow the team to regroup and will re-open on Tuesday.