Eat out: Powder & Magazine
Muddy tries Rochester's new hidden gem - a casual gastro dining restaurant for discerning food and drink fans. You’ll love the cool historic setting in the old Royal Navy Ordnance Depot.
Powder & Magazine is housed in a former Royal Navy Ordnance Depot which was historically used to store and prepare munitions for the naval ships laid up on the River Medway at Chatham from the late 17th century. Yep, you’ve got it, clever clogs – it’s not far from Chatham (ten min drive) and on the other side, it’s eleven miles to Dickens’ hometown of Rochester so a good mix of cultural destinations within easy reach.
Think funky, high-ceiling warehouse but with a very welcoming vibe. No trendy millennials eye-balling you here as soon as you set foot in the building. Phewf. Our table was booked for a blustery grey Tuesday in February so I was not expecting a huge inflow of fellow diners but it was a healthy turn-out which maybe says rather a lot about the appeal of the place. My sources tell me that the weekend IS a COMPLETELY different story particularly as Powder & Magazine are known for their Brunches and Sunday lunches where live jazz is often played so it can be a struggle to get a table. There’s plenty more stuff going on such as Comedy and Wine Tasting evenings so it is worth following them on social media to make sure that you are up to speed with all the fun stuff.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The focus seems to be ‘pub classics’ done very well. No sooner had we sat down then we were presented with a mezze board of warm, freshly baked focaccia with rosemary plus olives, sundried tomatoes and baked garlic.
Mid-week you can go for the very competitively priced fixed menu (£14 for two courses, £18 for three) or you can get totally distracted by the a la carte menu which my friend and I did. She went for the Chicken liver parfait with warm brioche and truffle butter and I opted for a heart-warming wild mushroom soup with truffle oil and warm brioche on the side. Big ticks all round.
Since we had carb-loaded ourselves with focaccia and brioche, we decided to go for a P&M Vegetarian Platter with halloumi fries, harissa hummus & sautéed wild mushrooms plus the P&M Fish Platter – smoked salmon, mackerel pate & potted prawns- for our mains which was served with char-grilled pitta bread, artichokes, sun blushed tomatoes & olives. A great way to pick at lots of delicious things but I did catch myself eyeing up a neighbouring diner’s butternut squash risotto.
Pudding was a blood-orange and wild raspberry sorbet which we shared. It was just the refreshing note to have at the end of the meal and was served in a very pretty bowl that I wanted to put in my handbag immediately. The only quaffing we did sadly was of these rather nice Franklin & Sons sparkling fruit drinks, but the wine list is extensive and they stock Chatham Historic Dockyard’s own gin, Dockyard Gin, so you can support local whilst enjoying a tipple – or two.
OUT & ABOUT
Since the weather outside was distinctly unfriendly, we ate in but there is plenty of outdoor seating for when the warmer weather returns. I am told that there is a lovely riverside walk starting from Powder & Magazine and if the tide is right, you can walk all the way to Hoo and past the remains of Cookham Fort. Upnor Castle is also a ten-minute walk in the other direction and has good views of the river.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Day-time wise, it’s a very good pit stop if you are out and about with the kids. Muddy favourite, Chatham Historic Dockyard is only 8-minute drive away which is a fantastic day out for the family. Good baby changing facilities were noted plus good menu options for little ones. Night-time wise, it would be a fab place for a girlie catch up or date night and worth considering for a large party in the evening – the top floor was booked out for 20 people the following Saturday and you can well imagine the fun times that would have been had.
Not for: Those looking to have a spot of retail therapy after. The neighbouring warehouse buildings within the Yard lean more towards office space and construction shops rather than little havens of interior delights. BUT Powder & Magazine does have a small in-house Artisan Shop that stocks local produce. Including Upnor Castle honey and carpentry items made by local craftsman, Eric Vine.
The damage: Starters cost about £6/£7 with mains starting from £14. Sunday lunch is £21 for two-courses and £26 for three.
Powder & Magazine, Building 72, Ordnance Yard, Upnor Road, Rochester, ME2 4UY, Tel: 01634 710872, powderandmagazine.co.uk