This Spitalfields Restaurant Has Us Hot Under The Collar
This is the third restaurant from the people behind Gunpowder and Madame D, both within a stone's throw of this new venue in Spitalfields.
Three Indian restaurants just a short stroll from each other could be a recipe for repetition, but in the hands of Harneet and Devina Beweja, Gul & Sepoy is something fresh.
It's not as thunderingly crammed-together as the (nonetheless lovely) Gunpowder, with a touch more elbow room per table and a few more soft furnishings to soak up the clamour of voices. And while the Gul & Sepoy menu is as high-concept as Madame D's, it's in an entirely different direction. The Madame represents the journey of Chinese-Tibetan immigrant to London, via India, via some opium-smuggling. This new venue's serving up a regal-meets-rustic concept, one half of the menu inspired by the royal courts of northern India, the other inspired by the military patrols and fishing villages of the south-west coastline.
In reality, the inspiration for the dishes might leap between royal court and rustic village — but the dishes themselves feel weighted towards the regal in their richness and big, deep spicing (and often in price-to-portion-size ratio, as well).
An absolute — and surprising — stand-out is the yam and paneer kofta chaat: hard but creamy, nutty but tangy, thick with lurid sauce, it's a marriage of flavours and textures made in weird, colourful heaven. But every dish we try is intricate, surprising and packs a powerful thud of flavour, (the slightly bland beef musallam with fried quail egg being the one exception).
Individually we're bowled over by almost everything, each dish deep and rich or complex and bright. There's no respite from the big, bold flavours, and we do find ourselves craving something on simpler lines — something plain and palate-resetting. Burnt achari cauliflower and small, singed new potatoes are the closest thing to a quiet side dish, and even those prove far too punchy with smokiness to be anything but an event in their own right.
But it's a small (and basic) quibble with a restaurant that can take some often 'meh' ingredients like yam and paneer, and get this gorgeous with them.
Gul & Sepoy, 65 Commercial Street, E1 6BD.
Last Updated 23 April 2018