Vegetarian Cuisine at The Gate, Hammersmith
If you read that title and are already discounting this restaurant on the account of not being a vegetarian, then stop right there (and read on).
I was recently invited along to the re-launch of The Gate restaurant in Hammersmith, first opened in 1989 by Adrian and Michael Daniel, and now back after an almighty revamp, this restaurant is certainly one to make you eat your words (as well as a bunch of other more tasty items of course).
I’ll admit that prior to my visit I was slightly dubious (for the record I’m a fool), as in general when I go out for dinner my culinary choices almost always focus around a piece of meat. I took my good friend Laura with me, who also happens to have been a devout veggie since the age of fifteen, with the intention of really putting the restaurant through it’s paces (again I’m a fool) but I’m happy to report that we both left full, satisfied, and completely bowled over by this place.
I’ve tried really hard to come up with a phrase which perfectly describes this restaurant but in the end decided that nothing can sum it up better than this one liner from The London Food Festival;
“The Gate isn’t a good vegetarian restaurant; it’s simply a good restaurant.”
I can’t really say it better than that. I think there is often a misconception around vegetarian food that the lack of meat automatically results in bland, flavourless dishes (and unfortunately this is often the case in many restaurants) but The Gate certainly disproves this myth, where I found the flavours and spices more prominent than in some of the best meat dishes I’ve had in other restaurants!
Hidden away just around the corner from the Hammersmith Apollo on Queen Caroline street, this is definitely one to seek out. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been to a concert at the Apollo and struggled to find somewhere decent to eat beforehand that provides a mix of ‘we’re out for fun night and want somewhere a bit special’ with ‘we need to get a seat and be out of here within an hour’ and at a loss usually end up in the least busy pub. Although I’d highly recommend going to The Gate when you have time to enjoy it, it’s definitely going to be my new pit stop before concerts from now on.
Arriving at the restaurant, you are met with a quaint little outdoor courtyard closed off from the main street, which I can imagine being extremely popular come the Summer months. However it’s once inside and upstairs that the magic of this place shines. That revamp break seems completely worth it as the place is warm and inviting while still maintaining a cool, modern edge. A high ceiling is filled with quirky hanging lamps while the large window cleverly deceives the eye into thinking the room is much bigger than it is. The art on display and the main focal point of the room – the stylised brick wall – really show off the creative flair that this restaurant and its team have.
I started with Girolle Ravioli, Hand-made rocket pasta filled with girolle duzelle and ricotta cheese, and pan-fried with herb butter, which was utterly delicious – light, fresh and full of flavour. I was instantly impressed.
Laura went for the classic courgette flower, filled with fava bean, feta cheese, mint and pine nuts, cooked in a crispy batter with puy lentil salsa and preserved lemon aioli, which was so beautifully presented I almost wanted to tell her not to eat it.
For the main course I was pretty torn on what to choose but in the end was so intrigued by the idea of a teriyaki without meat that I opted for the aubergine version – char-grilled and layered with coriander pesto, roasted red peppers, shiitake mushrooms and horseradish, coated with crispy breadcrumbs and served on stir-fried noodles with a pickled ginger and mango salsa. Laura chose a root vegetable rotolo parsnip – swede and celeriac wrapped in thyme-infused potato, topped with dolcelatte cheese, served with French beans, peppercorn and coarse-grain mustard sauce and finished with sweet potato crisps.
With that first mouthful I was met with a pow of flavour and spices that I was frankly not expecting to come from a vegetarian dish. The aubergine was so beautifully cooked in breadcrumbs that I almost forgot for a moment that I wasn’t eating meat. The noodles were coated in sweet spices with pieces of mango adding freshness.
When it came to the sweet stuff there was really only one option – the mezze dessert offers a mini version of all five of the menu’s dessert options – a white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake, banoffee pie, creme brûlée, orange marmalade and whisky bread and butter pudding and an apple and pear crumble. It claims it serves two but really I’d say you could easily share it between four, especially after you’ve demolished two delicious courses beforehand. For us it just seemed to good to pass up, plus gave us a chance to trial everything on the menu (all in the name of the review of course). Besides who can resist a dessert in miniature form?
Our faves had to be the cheesecake and the crumble, although the crème
brûlée was also a surprise hit for me as I’m normally not a fan, but really with five desserts to choose from who can go wrong?
I also want to add one last little gem about the menu, as well as being fully vegetarian it also offers many vegan and gluten free options too. As my mum is both a veggie and a celiac I’m always on the hunt for new places that offer a wider selection of gluten free dishes than purely risotto or salad and The Gate is now top of my list for the next parental visit.
It’s hard to find fault with The Gate. It has such a warm welcoming atmosphere- casual and chatty rather than posh as ‘eck – which is always preferable in my view. The staff were friendly and attentive and really looked after us, bringing bread baskets and drinks top ups even before we needed to ask. And the food, well I hope the photos do it justice as it was absolutely incredible. I was lucky enough to meet the owners before I left and they very kindly gave me a signed copy of their new vegetarian cookbook (which is also available to buy at the restaurant too) so I’ll be trying a few of the delicacies myself. And if you are looking at those photos and thinking for presentation that good you must have to pay through the roof, you would be wrong. The restaurant is very affordable with starters from £5.50 and mains from £12.
A huge thank you to The Gate for accommodating us, I’m already planning my next visit!
Open Monday – Sunday
Dinner – 6-11pm
*Please note, I was treated to an evening at The Gate free of charge for review purposes although the opinions expressed are all my own.*