Monday, 9 January 2012

Powder Keg Diplomacy, Clapham Junction 17/20

Location: St Johns Hill, 5 minutes walk from the junction up the hill, on the side where there is nothing worth seeing…

Visit: Thursday and Sunday evening

To Note: Same team as Lost Society, Lost Angel and Blind Tiger if that’s your thing

Ambience 4/5
Design 4/5
Drinks 4/5
Staff 5/5
Extra LBS Star: Not quite, perhaps I’m getting cynical on the “prohibition thing”

From a break away management team who cut their teeth at the Lost Society group, the influence of the 1920’s/prohibition is obvious though carried out with more subtlety that its past employers manage. Fronted by Baron and Lady Powder Keg, I first came across their libation experiments on Twitter and followed the buzz last year as they started their own bar on a stretch of St John’s Hill that also saw The Plough and Ben’s Canteen open, so we can only hope for more here in 2012.

The front section of the space is the bar, with a mixture of high banquets along one wall, bar stools and tables with doll size chairs that my companion ensured me was comfortable at the window to watch the world go by – though it’s not the most interesting street! The back area is dedicated to food with exciting looking chandeliers and a glass roof. However, it was very dark when we ate here, we struggled to read the menu and I was poked in the back by a large fern at our allocated table since we had not booked – to be worked on! Otherwise the décor is that of a New York loft bar, very “Chinaskis” of Glasgow if you’ve been…

The staff were a highlight, friendly, keen to advise but honest on what they have not tried and with ridiculous moustaches all round to match braces and flat caps. They can steer you through the drinks menu admirably, and quite a drinks menu it is. It starts with several pages of wines (Indian wine, Canada Red, anyone?) then moves onto several pages of cocktails all with interesting twists on the norm and beautifully made classics too. My vodka martini with a lemon twist was part served in a dainty gold rimmed glass, part left in a decanter in a glass of ice to keep it cool before drinking! For something seasonal, local and interesting try Grandad’s allotment. Then their beers stretch over several pages and the gooseberry I tried was delightful.

Food does not play second fiddle here either with a regularly changing seasonal menu offering around 6 starters, mains and desserts all professionally presented and tasty though at £16 a main this is definitely gastro pub price territory.

The music is definitely my scene and following the 20’s influence has a jazzy buzz to it with a fair dose of trumpet. Despite a brief lull during my last visit there was a fairly regular stream of young professionals passing through and we did not even realise that we’d reached closing time when the lights went up.

I am not sure how to sum up PKD. The food is very good. The drinks are very good. The staff are very good. I have been several times despite it not being “en route” to ether my house or my work. Perhaps that’s all I need to say.

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