Gunpowder, Spitalfields

The Indian food scene in London has transformed in recent years… I no longer find myself wandering down Brick Lane for a curry fix. Trishna, Kricket and Gymkhana are all brilliant, but I think Gunpowder has to be my current favourite modern Indian eatery in the city.

Gunpowder

The tiny restaurant in Spitalfields is a hotspot for business people working nearby. I nestled in amongst the hungry locals for a delicious lunch last week. I had popped in to Gunpowder a few times before but, unaware of the cult dishes on the menu, had missed out on tasting the Spicy venison doughnut, which, I can now confirm, deserves its legendary status. The rich minced meat is highly seasoned with a mix of spices and concealed within crispy vermicelli casing. We also loved snacking on the Karwari soft shell crab, a devilishly decadent battered crab topped with a vibrant marinade of citrus and chilli.

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The unmissable item on the menu, in my opinion, is the Maa’s kashmiri lamb chops. These grilled chops are coated in an irresistible marinade, soft and tender inside with a perfected chargrilled edge. For vegetarians there are plenty of great options too, from intensely flavoured Bhuna aubergine and crispy kale salad to the epic Sigree grilled mustard broccoli which sits in an aromatic creamy sauce.

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The small desserts section on the menu regularly changes. Last week we tried Old monk rum pudding, a comforting take on a bread & butter pudding with raisins and custard. For something more indulgent, try the Dark chocolate mousse with banana parfait and pistachio chikki. The mousse was incredibly rich but complemented nicely by the nutty parfait.

I found myself drinking copious amounts of water to cope with the spicy dishes, but if you fancy something stronger order a Gunpowder Regiment or Bow Barracks Gimlet from the cocktail menu. The drinks are carefully constructed and well mixed.

Like many of the best venues in London, you can’t book a table at Gunpowder. But take my word for it, this is one restaurant really worth queuing for.

More information on Gunpowder here.

MW Nails, Spitalfields

The new MW Nails flagship nail salon in Spitalfields Market is one of a kind. The interior is spectacularly decorated with original 1970s AirFrance plane fittings, arranged to recreate the aircraft in true retro style. Following the original branch off Chancery Lane, this sparkling new venue promises to be even more popular.

Aside from making an almost symmetrical logo, MW could stand for a number of slogans. In fact it represents the motto ‘My Way’ indicating that nail treatments here are performed exactly to your specifications. I experienced this concept when I went along for the press day and was allowed to not only have five different colours on my toes, but to also try the fabulous nail art. I was thoroughly impressed with how accommodating they are, I know I can be a difficult customer to please!

The girls are lovely at MW, assisting me with my overflowing bag, and offering me mini macaroons and champagne. The small salon is immaculately designed and organised with thoughtful details everywhere: genuine overhead lockers, lights, trolleys and even a departure sign by the door. I was totally overexcited by the brilliant theme and amazed by how they have pulled it off! Upstairs a departures-esque board shows treatment choices with a rainbow array of OPi and Essie bottles of varnish options. I was taken downstairs to the first class reclining plane seats, complete with adjustable tables, sat back, dunked my feet in the warm soothing water and let myself fully relax.

My nail artist for the afternoon was the lovely Afia, a beauty queen and nail art pro. We chatted about the nail artists she rates and the techniques and tools I would need if I wanted to get involved in London’s nail scene. Speaking about her previous job at WAH, we bonded over our mutual love of nail decoration and she kindly agreed to do leopard print on my toes (secretly needing to get her ‘nail art fix’!) She was a skilled and talented nail artist, that was clear immediately, but it was lovely to see someone really take care of my nails so carefully and efficiently. MW offers a range of express and luxury manicures and pedicures for women and men and has a range of great value bridal and group treatments available too for special occasions. I experienced the MW signature pedicure, Tokyo Toes, where nails are perfectly shaped and buffed with cuticle work, massage, moisturisation, hot towels and a choice of polish. The exfoliating and massage were the best bits, vigorous and energising, stimulating kneading that calmed and released all the tension in my muscles. Then my toes were painted in the daintiest new pastel Essie colours before being adorned with leopard print nail art. They looked incredible!

MW nails is the newest and coolest salon in town. Climb aboard as soon as you can, this nail bar is first class.

Visit the website for more information here.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

Continuing in my quest to find Britain’s best burger I went to visit Hawksmoor’s newest bar in Spitalfields. Located downstairs just below the main restaurant, this new venue serves creative cocktails and a short menu of popular, classic dishes to eat.

It is a cute venue, speakeasy-esque with glittering mirrors on the walls. In theory it is a bar that serves a bit of accompanying food, however after the experience I would say the food is substantial and delicious enough to classify the place as an eatery. The mood is cheerful, groups of friends hang out on bar stools or gather round the small tables chomping sweet smelling burgers and glugging tropical drinks.

The menu is blissfully short and uncomplicated with an appealing list of treats: mains, sides, puddings, cocktails and desert island drinks. It doesn’t take long to choose and once we had ordered with our lovely and very helpful waitress we could sit, soak up the atmosphere and gossip. Our first round of cocktails arrived within minutes: Nuclear Banana Daiquiri (£11) for me and a Marmalade cocktail (£8.50) for my friend. The Marmalade inspired concoction with gin, lemon, Campari & marmalade was divine, thirst quenching, sweet but with a kick from the Campari. The explosive banana cocktail was a little bizarre, expertly mixed and super-thick. It was too heavy for a pre-meal apperitif but would be heavenly as a dessert cocktail or beach drink. I highly recommend the refreshing and fruity Mary Pickford drink, the pretty Green & Red Margarita and the exotic Trinidad Swizzle.

My diligent friend had done her research and recommended ordering the Tamworth Lamb: it was an unexpectedly awesome plate of grub, minced meat, herbs, lettuce and plenty of chilli, a seriously scrumptious snack. Obviously we had to try the burgers too, the perfectly simple Cheeseburger and the more jazzy Kimchi burger. Both were great with highest quality meat, flavoursome, extra juicy and grilled impeccably. My cheeseburger tasted sweet and succulent, I finished the lot without coming up for breath… the burgers are relatively small and cost a reasonable £8.50, ideal as a light dinner with drinks. The triple cooked chips (£4) are devilishly divine as always. Nowadays I am a real chip snob… anything less than triple fried really disappoints me.

Whilst continuing, less sober now, through the innovative cocktails on the list, we indulged in quirky desserts choosing  first the epic Sticky Toffee Sundae (£6.50) which was as calorific and naughty as you could imagine. But the really successful sweet course was the Peanut Butter Shortbread with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. This cake looked simple enough, however inside the nutty casing was a joyfully chocolatey centre – delicious with the cold salty caramel ice.

If you can’t manage a full slap up meal at Hawksmoor,  the new bar at Spitalfields is the ideal place to graze or gobble delicious food accompanied by even better cocktails.

Visit the website for more information and to book here.