The menu features a range of quirky alternatives to traditional Indian dishes: plates range from small to large and shy away from the well trodden territory of nearby Brick Lane with its abundant curry-houses.
First up is a kind of deconstructed masala dosa, rasam ke bomb – with the crisp dosa, rather than containing the soup, served on top of a fiery shot of it, mingled with whisky – it packs a punch, and starts the menu as Gunpowder means to go on.
Next on the list is a large spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut – with a rich, dense filling and a sauce that has quite a kick to it, it's quite a lot for one person, so we'd recommend sharing it to leave room for the menu's other flavoursome offerings.
The chettinad pulled duck is particularly unusual, served inside a homemade oothappam – a particularly South Indian style dish, the fluffy pancake that makes a change from the traditional rice and naan of Northern Indian cuisine.
Tender kashmiri lamb chops are served with a fragrant mint sauce. The homemade sauces are particularly fragrant and pay testament to the chef's prior achievements at the Michelin-starred Tamarind. The karwari soft shell crab is fairly simple, served whole, and dressed in zesty lime. It's not the menu's best offering but it's certainly passable. The Nagaland house pork belly, with tamarind kachumber, caught our eye, but veered on the overly sweet side.
Surprisingly, though, the 'sigree grilled mustard broccoli' (served in full or half portions) was the menu's pièce de resistance. Rich and smoky, it makes for an excellent vegetarian offering and is almost a meal in itself. In fact, the vegan offerings on the menu are extensive and reflect Gunpowder's understanding of the desires of its local Shoreditch clientèle. The wine list isn't particularly impressive – and nor are the wines – but this doesn't seem to be the small bar's main focus, however they are affordable and pay sufficient complement to the food.
To finish, if you've room, there are a number of traditional Indian desserts as well as an enticing 'Molten Spice Chocolate Cake with Masala Chai Custard'. Whilst it doesn't have quite the dense richness we might hope for, the jug of chai custard that accompanies is fragrant, thick and utterly delicious.
Whilst the dishes at Gunpowder aren't in quite the same league as Polpo's affordable small-plates, nor the fine-dining of The Cinnamon Club, the intimate venue with its exposed brick walls and wooden tables makes for a cosy and laid-back dining experience.
|Gunpowder restaurant review, Indian small-plates in Spitalfields
|Gunpowder, 11 Whites Row, London, E1 7NF | MAP
|Liverpool Street (underground)
11 Nov 15 – 23 Nov 16, Tuesday to Saturday Lunch 11:30 – 2.30pm Dinner 6:00pm – 11:00pm | Sundays 11:00am – 3:00pm
|£5 - £8 small plates
|Click here to go to the Gunpowder restaurant website