If you’re a fan of Indian flavours and into the sharing small plates idea, I strongly suggest you add Gul & Sepoy to your must-eats list pronto. It’s amazing. I went by for lunch last week and it blew my socks off — it’s a special little place that packs a punch. The masterpiece of husband and wife Harneet and Davina Baweja, Gul & Sepoy comes as the third opening in their string of very successful restaurants all on Commercial Street, following Gunpowder (which I adored), and Madame D (which I also raved about). If you’ve been to either of those, you can know to expect the same style of modern take on Indian cuisine through refined small plates and creative flavour combos. If you haven’t, I’d suggest you get those on your list too, they’re both excellent.
Gul & Sepoy is inspired by the contrasting ideas of the elaborate banquets you’d find in the Raj palaces in northwest India, and the more rustic, simpler dishes old Indian army troops would cook and eat on the move. The menu is split into vegetable-based plates, seafood and meats. Being pesce, I can’t comment on the meat section, but the other two sections are definitely extensive enough to give vegetarians and pescetarians a solid lunch or dinner spread. (Harneet always does an excellent job of catering for non-meat-eaters so you should definitely keep his places in mind if you’ve got veggies in your party…)
We start with the amuse bouche — a butternut squash and lentil soup topped with a bajra roti (a kind of long thin cracker) which you can dip in for just crumble and knock it all back together. Delicious.
The rest of the plates come as they’re ready. The burnt achari cauliflower and potatoes is a very moreish dish, like sophisticated Indian comfort food, whilst the yam and paneer kofta chaat — a contemporary take on the Indian classic — is more complex, with the creamy cheese and meaty purple yams on a bed of crunchy sev. The whole tandoori sea bream is one I’d definitely recommend — pre-boned so it’s easy to get stuck into, served with the most aesthetically-pleasing pickled black radishes, and perfectly cooked so you get the crispy spiced skin and the fresh, tender meat. Then there’s the soft-shell crab, the real show-stopper for me. If you have been to Gunpowder, you’ll know Harneet does a soft-shell crab really bloody well and same goes here; it’s delicious, so delicate, and served with a smoky baba ganoush to balance the flavours.
We’re stuffed but we want to sample dessert, so pic from the three options and share the kheer: a very traditional Indian rice pudding, which Harneet has put a modern spin on by layering it with dark chocolate salted caramel, sutarfeni (a popular Indian sweet, quite like candy floss), pistachio chikki (a sweet brittle), and a pistachio and mint dust. There’s no denying its decadent, but it’s seriously good, and actually not too sweet thanks to the creamy rice pudding.
GUL & SEPOY, 65 COMMERCIAL STREET, LONDON, E1 6BD
— closed on Sundays