A Traditional Boozer With Untraditional Flavours, The Gunmakers Clerkenwell

15th March 2018

Having an Asian-inspired menu served in a gastropub is hardly breaking news these days, however when you have a head chef in the form of Madison Duffy who has worked at Coya and Wright Bros then it is cause to sit up and take notice. The Gunmakers is situated on a quiet side street in trendy Clerkenwell; however their marketing team must be doing a splendid job, given the paucity of available seating on a chilly Wednesday night during our recent visit.

From the exterior, it looks like your standard pub fare with a stern-looking black and gold exterior. However, the inside is very much a light, summery affair with a dominant marine blue colour and an abundance of soothing foliage. The pub has a cosy, intimate vibe and is spread across 3 different floors with the main bar and dining area on the ground floor, a relaxed living room space on the 1st floor with a perfect for slouching Chesterfield sofa and The Gun Club on the top floor. This is a trendy hair studio and barber that comes with its very own bar, so there should be no lack of libation during your visit.

What about the dining experience might you wonder? There is room for improvement, such as a menu that has main courses saying “seasonal vegetarian/fish/meat special”. That rather negates the whole point of having a menu and seating is quite tight in the evenings especially as the weekend approaches (however, I have heard lunch is a soothing, relaxed affair). However, the food here is a winsome affair and a breath of fresh air compared to similar establishments.

Fried chicken wings with a fish sauce glaze really added depth of flavour to what is otherwise a simple dish and allowed the savoury taste of the dish to linger long in your palate. Other inventive highlights, you wouldn't normally expect even at a gastropub included a bean and lentil curry puff with a very potent tamarind sauce which has those sour notes that help to get your appetite going. Chickpea nuggets with an unusual combination of tahini and miso, which I haven't seen anywhere else before.

For the main course, we opted for a confit duck with an appetising soy glaze, which was topped with shredded cucumber, crispy shallots, and sesame. The taste could match the best that Chinatown produces but you can get all this from the comfort of a local pub.

Dessert was an equally delightful affair, although the Asian-influence ended here as we tried an extremely well-matched, blood orange and rhubarb crumble with milk ice cream.
You wouldn't think of visiting a place like The Gunmakers for a charming, inspiring meal, but that is what makes discovering hidden gems in London so truly special.
For more information on The Gunmakers, see here.
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