top of page

Empire Empire

22 August 2023: Empire Empire - Gunpowder diplomacy heads west


Another week and another freebie courtesy of Caroline. I'm going to start taking this for granted! (Hint, hint).

Yes, I was blessed again with a chance to sample one of London's newest curry experiences completely gratis, and have no shame in it.

On this occasion it was a schlep up to Notting Hill for the oddly named Empire Empire - the latest creation from Gunpowder's Harneet Beweja. 

But would it be a case of 'so good they named it twice' or double trouble? Here's what we made of our Tuesday evening visit.


Empire Empire is apparently named after the many Empires that can be found in South Asia, although this seems to have no connection to its 70s Indian disco concept. And, as a theme it falls flat, not least as it's sort of been done before by Dishoom Carnaby. In general, the connection between the name, concept, and end product is tenuous at best. The break from the Gunpowder name seems to have come with a lack of coherent style, despite a juke box and photo booth.

Nevertheless the dining experience is pleasant - more akin to the bistro vibes of Gunpowder Soho than an Indian disco, with a small 20ish-cover space and some streetside decking outside.

This option to eat outside is always a bonus, even in the grey and windy summer of 2023, but the wind might as well have been blowing tumbleweed along the street such was the dead-end vibes around. 

The waiter assured us things were winding down ahead of the Notting Hill carnival and bookings were high for the week after but, like the ode to Indian 70s disco, co-diners and a buzzing atmosphere were all but non-existent. 

As a non-try-hard south Londoner who doesn't get the West London, Notting Hill pretense, Empire Empire as a concept flattered to deceive and, like its namesake should be consigned to history. It seems this West London territory would've been better conquered with Gunpowder diplomacy rather than by playing to the local pretenders with it's rather gimmicky and somewhat out of touch name.


Starters and sides


Fish and Prawn Amritsari Pakoras

Paneer Tikka Shashlik

Goat Seekh Kebab

Lacha Paratha

The menu here is similar but different to Gunpowder. The starters and kebab dishes won't sound too unfamiliar to those who have frequented the Soho, Tower Bridge or Shoredtich venues. However, in line with the Punjabi bent to the menu, a handful of curries grace the options here whilst not elsewhere. Likewise, breads choices are abundant here whilst at Gunpowder rice sides dominate.

Luckily the food surpassed expectations set by the rather unspectacular surrounds. Our first few choices matched the quality found at Gunpowder - a poppadom selection, delectable paneer tikka, and superb pakoras, along with a Punjabi classic - seekh kebabs.

The poppadom selection came in the modern style, eschewing the traditional disc shape for thin dipping strips. More familiar looking were the three accompanying chutnies, but they were far from typical in flavour. The mint and coriander added a fresh cooling to the firey spicy roasted pepper and garlic dip, whilst the tamarind and date side sang sweetly; all three matched only by those found at Brigadiers.

Next came the paneer tikka which was generous in portion, as were all the starters, although these weren't quite infused with the smokey goodness of the best. In contrast, the seekh kebabs surpassed any I'd previously eaten, oozing juicy flavour. But better still were the fish and prawn Amritsar pakoras. These delicately battered seafood bites were exemplary; the light coating, tinged with salt, was perfectly complemented with a squeeze of lemon juice and an unusual but not unwelcome cheesy, tartare style side.

Last but not least, the lacha paratha that came with our mains was also very enjoyable. This  was the perfect foil to our curry, providing an excellent juxtaposition of a soft doughy centre and cripsy charred edges in a swirling, almost French pastry, bread. 

Altogether, an excellent showing for Starters and Sides.



Butter Chicken

Lamb Shank Dum Biryani

The main options may appear fairly generic on the menu (vindaloo, rogan josh, saag, etc.), but based on our choices you can expect anything but ordinary. The butter chicken was the best I've had, with a rich buttery tomato sauce replete with mountains of pulled, almost Mediterranean, kebab-style, chicken, although the slow-cooked and shredded meat came with a few gristly pieces that took the shine off somewhat.

More consistent was the stylish looking lamb shank dum biryani complete with a Desperate Dan, cow pie style bone poking out of its lovely shortcrust top. Inside, the expected mix of rice, onion, spice and yet more generous meat pieces didn't disappoint in a beautifully moist and meaty umami mix. Adding even more flavour was a refreshing onion, cucumer and tomato kacumber raita accompaniment that added the icing on the perverbial.

Let down only by the occasional chicken gristle it was another strong performance for the Curry.



Despite sitting outside the two waiting staff were very attentive and friendly, giving recommendations and happy to converse about how the new restaurant was faring. Respectful and smartly dressed to boot there were no complaints from us in what was a pleasant dining experience with good, timely service.


Value for money

Whilst prices here are still higher than average, the quality of the food coming in sizeable amounts represents slightly better value than Gunpowder, in my opinion. The curries in particular offer meat content in spades and one could easily be satisfied with just a handful of kebabs and tikkas each coming in around the £10 mark. There could easily have been even more of a premium paid for the Notting Hill location, but in general I think the prices were fair and the overall meal good value for money (if we had paid!).



It's fair to say the location and concept of Empire Empire didn't blow me away, but despite the lack of Gunpowder, some of the plates really did. The Punjab twist (with curries and bread) on the usual Gunpowder menu is certainly a welcome one and, even if the Indian 70s disco theme didn't get us going, our taste buds were certainly up and dancing throughout. With excellent food, Empire Empire has planted its flag firmly in the Notting Hill restaurant scene, and on our leaderboard as a result.


<<<Previous review


Address: 16 All Saints Rd, London W11 1HH

Cuisine: Indian​, Punjabi

Status: Open​

Alcohol Policy: Licensed​

Price: £££​

Summary: Contemporary spin on Punjabi flavours

bottom of page