"Colonial-inspired? Yes, but don’t let that put you off"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Menus favouring hearty British food have been de rigeur for some time, so Powder Keg Diplomacy are going one step further by proclaiming to be a colonial-inspired gastropub, which sounds a little dubious at first. Staff waltz around in flat caps and waistcoats, and the cocktail list would look at home in a gentlemen’s club circa 1850, with drinks like gimlets and “Empire” cocktails. Ingredients are strictly British or from the former British colonies; take the Henry Rifle martini for instance, made with gin and Royal Ceylon gunpowder vermouth (and served in two vessels – a delightful mini-martini glass to sip from and a tumbler with ice containing a glass bottle for topping up), or the Cape of Storms, with Rooibos vermouth and South African KWV brandy. Wines are mostly from SA, Australia, Canada and Britain, and there is a beer list tailor-made for brewery nerds, including after dinner varieties.
Dinner is served, rather appropriately, in the “Parlour”, while the bar is referred to as the “Rifle Club”. The theme is far from gimmicky, particularly given the beautiful space the Parlour inhabits within a turn-of-the-century-style conservatory lit by candlelight and filled with plants. Every object, from the mirrors on the walls to the water decanters on the tables has been selected to match the Victorian theme. In short, it looks fantastic, and we haven’t even got to the food yet. Smoked mackerel pate and a peppered fillet with a very citrusy sorrel cream make up the medley of mackerel, served with a mild shot of cold beetroot soup. Even better is their take on eggs benedict, with a potato rosti in place of a muffin topped with spinach, a large poached egg and a hollandaise that owes much of its sweetness to a large helping of sherry. For the main course we try a very festive pot roasted pheasant, with chestnuts, prunes and salty bacon lardons, and a hunky chunk of fillet steak, served with the fattest, crispiest chips this side of the river has ever seen. For dessert, the lemon posset is ultra-creamy and paired with almond shortbread, while an intensely rich chocolate torte is tarted up with a hint of chilli and a dollop of tangy orange sorbet. Possibly the only time you should not be put off by the word “colonial”.
Leila reviewed Powder Keg Diplomacy on Mon 05 Dec 2011