Madame D

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Explosive flavours from the Gunpowder team is what this Himalayan restaurant is all about, says Zoë Perrett

Not content with a Michelin endorsement and endless queues for their modern Indian, Gunpowder, co-founders Harneet and Devina Baweja and executive chef Nirmal Save now possess a trio of restaurants within a stone’s throw of one another in East London – the brand new, royal-meets-rustic Gul & Sepoy, and Madame D’s, where we dine tonight.

The latter is the team’s middle child. Concurrent with the traits of that sibling type, it’s an unassuming place that just quietly gets on with doing its thing.

And its thing is rather good Himalayan food. Located above a bar on Commercial Road, the dining room is understated and casual, with tables a shade too small for all the food you’ll want to order.

Madame D interior

Toasting a long overdue catch-up with a raspberry and ginger mojito and a mai tai that tastes of liquid marzipan, the best friend and I decide what we can bear not to eat. Luckily the menu is concise, and, clearly having heard the crunch of prawn crackers from the other side of the Thames, LB is on his way to ensure any excessive ordering won’t go to waste.

Those prawn crackers are seasoned with lip-tingling Szechuan pepper salt, accompanied by Newari pickles; a red-hot, garlic-rich chilli chutney and shredded fermented vegetables. The condiments also prove handy for anointing the Naga chilli beef puffs – flaky baked pastries filled with savoury, spicy mince.

With characteristic perfect timing, LB arrives at the same time as the bulk of our food; reiterating his hatred of cheese but conceding that the delicious Indo-Chinese chilli paneer is pretty palatable. So, too, is a whole pan-fried duck leg in a jam-like, sweet-spicy-savoury Tibetan glaze.

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We’ve eschewed vegetables and any extraneous starch in favour of trying every carnivorous dish, but our diets are somewhat redeemed by the Nepalese pork which closely resembles a salad; the meat chopped and tossed with the likes of chillies, spring onions and tomatoes.

Himalayan fried chicken is finger-lickin’, anointed with a layer of piquant green chutney beneath an audibly-crunchy coating; whilst a tiffin tin of egg noodles tossed with minced lamb is the region’s answer to spag bol – slurpy, savoury, supremely comforting.

With little room or inclination for dessert, we make our descent – gratified by the fact our journey merely consists of a single staircase rather than the entirety of Everest.

Make it happen

Where: 76 Commercial St, London E1 6LY
Find out more: To visit the website, click here

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