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Powder Keg

Restaurants, Contemporary European Battersea
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The bar formerly known as Powder Keg Diplomacy, now with more of a focus on food.

It’s official: London is obsessed with food. So much so that well-established bars have started reinventing themselves as eating places. That’s the deal here, where the popular neighbourhood hangout Powder Keg Diplomacy has ditched the Diplomacy and brought in a chef previously at fashionable tapas spot Opera Tavern to run the kitchen. Sure enough, the menu is now dominated by small plates with Middle-Eastern-slash-Med leanings.

Which is no bad thing. In fact, a few of the dishes got a definite thumbs-up. There were chargrilled prawns, served with a nicely sharp aioli and a deliciously cheesy pizzette slathered in a chunky smash-up of ripe skinned tomatoes and translucent curls of slightly salty guanciale (Italian cured pork). Also a nearly-brilliant dessert of homemade millionaire’s shortbread, the kind that really does make you feel like you just got lucky with a scratchcard: thick, decadent ganache, buttery shortbread, gooey caramel. Why they decided to serve it with a watery sorbet was beyond me (just leave this to one side).

But other dishes fell more flat: the squid ink arancini had a magnificent crunch, but all the texture in the world counts for nothing if there’s no seasoning or ‘seafoodiness’. Charred cauliflower was nice enough but plating it up with both houmous and pomegranate molasses really didn’t work. And the ‘apple tart’, though tall and attractive, turned out to be dense and doughy. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Worse still, our server was overbearing and dismissive. But the setting, still a study in an ‘eclectic vintage vibe’, was charming as ever. Diplomacy or no, Powder Keg will do just fine.


Address: 147 St John's Hill
SW11 1TQ
Transport: Clapham Junction rail
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90
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