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147 St John’s Hill
Powder Keg Diplomacy’s “vintage Victorian splendour” and deliberate styling thankfully avoid silly pastiche, but this “shining neighbourhood gem” also shows some class when it comes to drinks. In the Rifle Club Bar, you can sup heritage cobblers, punches and “creative” cocktails such as Fog City 27 (spiced pear gin, Fernet Branca, cinnamon sugar, lemon juice and pine soda) – along with a commendable range of global beers and wines. Drinkers nibble on ‘tiffin and titbits’ at the bar, while the more formal Observatory Dining Room (a handsome conservatory) offers a “seasonally evolving” menu ranging from rare Richmond venison with beetroot, carrot purée and sprout leaves to Ramsgate gurnard with roasted orange, Sharpham spelt, samphire and shimeji mushrooms, plus puds such as almond sponge with mulled apple and cardamom gel. With “fantastic staff” doing the business, this place is a true local – “no stiff collars, just warm fun”.
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147 St John’s Hill
Clapham Junction Station 624m
Wandsworth Town Station 1km
The Grand Theatre 575m
H.M. Prison Wandsworth 1km
Tues-Sun 12N-12M (Sat-Sun 10am- )
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
I visited Powder Keg Diplomacy with a friend for brunch after discovering them at their stand at Cocktails in the City (a great annual event).
Although it was busy and we hadn't booked, the staff were quick to get us seated and the quirky furniture and furniture gave us plenty of amusement until we had chosen our food. Table water was served in an old whisky carafe, adding to the vintage vibe, and the delicious scrambled egg for only £4 was excellent value, not to mention much tastier than in the local café! The breakfast martini was very tasty and interesting to have on a brunch menu -I would definitely recommend it as a post-brunch drink.
The service overall was attentive without the feeling of being rushed or pestered. The manner of the staff was friendly but efficient.
Overall definitely a place I will visit again, particularly because their cocktail menu is much more extensive in the evening!
Food + drink: 3
It seems everyone is jumping on the nostalgia bandwagon these days but Powder Keg Diplomacy has taken it seriously. it's a few steps from Clapham Junction station but a world away. Although the theme is Victoriana, there's a distinct whiff of Great Gatsby-esque, prohibition-defying, high-falutin' good times, tempered with a gentle, English stiff-upper lip. There are mismatched chairs, charming light fittings made out of presumably recycled gramophones, an old wrought iron conservatory providing a more formal setting for dinner. I really feel I should have put on a dress and some lippy. Scratch below this vintage veneer though and, unlike some other retro venues, you'll find another layer of vintage. The cocktail list is filled with interesting, original concoctions with seasonal, English and old-skool influences. I had a wonderfully sweet and sour Rhubarb G&T which had us reminiscing about those old rhubarb & custard boiled sweeties. The colonial-themed wine list focuses on South Africans, Australians and yes, English wines. My one bugbear is that they don't do many by the glass, although they do offer more by the carafe. The menu has an air of traditional about it but it's more modern dishes with a twist than the showy flair (or pricing!) of a Heston Dinner. I had a lovely mackerel on broccoli spears and curly kale side. Service, from the be-hatted and be-pinnied waiter, was friendly, if perhaps a little slow on the drinks service. At £14-24 for mains, it's not the cheapest place around here, but I come away from a dinner having had a cocktail, bread, glass of wine, main and shared side with change from £40 and having had a very pleasant evening so it's not bad value. If anyone asks again to meet in this area I will definitely be returning to Powderkeg. I just hope the hordes who hang out at the Slug and Lettuce never make it this far.
Definitely a place with a difference. From the vintage mini chaise longue to the hat stand complete with topper, you know you're in for something fun.
The element of creativity extends in spades to the cocktails, and the beer list is an inspiration. Dessert beer? don't mind if I do. The staff buzz around with energy and enthusiasm, and the decor is warm and eclectic.
I'll certainly be making a return visit.
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