Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Powder Keg Diplomacy: where things got meaty (and I got beef)

Vegetarians best look away.

A few friends and I went on a meaty mission south of the river and found ourselves in this Clapham gem called Powder Keg Diplomacy. Not to be fooled by normal gastropub exteriors, the place inside looked like something Charles Dickens conjured; decor resembled all things colonial/Victorian London and servers looked dapper in waistcoats, top hats and cravats. We were led to a picturesque conservatory further back and it spelled a little bit of romance and a little bit of fantasy. Our curiosity waved beyond the bar list - our appetites were definitely aroused.

The lamb (£19) offering was a combination of rump and shoulder, served with a fondant potato, some veggies and blackcurrant sauce. This dish was pretty good. They've managed to cook the lamb into a really nice pink (but not blue) and the sauce had a good balance of acidity and sweetness. This was quite a homey meal.

I'm not sure whether the pork belly was a permanent fixture on the menu or a special plat du jour. It was deliciously served with super creamy mash, black pudding, kale and a gorgeous jus. That crackling was such a hit and if they'd have an appetiser made of this I reckon I'd be dying of cholesterol by now.

I ordered the beef fillet (£26). Rare, please. On paper, it sounded like the way to go: 28-day air hung piece of steak served with thrice cooked chips, some leaves and your choice of sauce (peppercorn, Bordelaise or tarragon butter). It looked like a thing of beauty in its simplicity, except the char on the steak made me suspect it wasn't cooked rare.

True enough, it was medium. I sent it back.

And got it medium. Again. So I sent it back. Again.

A man in chef whites came back with my third plate of steak. He looked at me with such indignation and said that the fillet comes out 'medium rare' when you ask for it to be cooked 'rare'. I blinked at him, totally flummoxed, flabbergasted and floored by this meaty statement. In my head, I was karate-chopping and yop chagi-ing like a mad cavewoman screaming "Are you.......serious?! Are you really, really, really serious?" I've never heard any chef say this about fillet steak before. NEVER.

Clearly this guy and I had some beef over his beef (har har). I wanted to send this fillet back - again - so badly but upon seeing my buddies halfway through their meals and the sorry-looking server, I resigned. The third fillet was almost there but not quite: it was cooked 'medium rare' bordering on medium. Oh well.

The thing is, £30 for a plate of fillet may be a bargain compared elsewhere but when your stomach is yearning and churning for a good piece of meat, you'd very much like for it to be done perfectly. Having said all that, the steak was nicely cooked in its medium rare glamour. The seasoning was actually spot on and the meat tasted dreamy. The extra serving of thrice-cooked chips they gave us were quite sweet too.

And the ambience made up for it. Ish.

So overall, let's do this:

Would I get the steak again? Nope.

Would I visit again? Yes, definitely. The food actually sounds promising and the weekend brunch menu seems delightful. I've skimmed through the cocktails list as well and it looks good.

Would I take my friends? Indeed. Might need some back up, just in case! No, seriously. PKD seems like a decent place to take groups for drinks and bar chat. Or a birthday party. Or dinner before a night of debauchery.

Powder Keg Diplomacy
147 St John's Hill, London SW11 1TQ | +44(0)20 7450 6457
Ave. spend pp: £40
Powder Keg Diplomacy on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

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