Whether you're a committed vegetarian or a die-hard carnivore, I'm quite confident that you'll enjoy the restaurant I'm about to take you along to, because I realised in the aftermath (rolling myself home in a pleasant and unexpected food coma) that this place fills a gap in the market.
With healthy eating, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options rising in popularity in cosmopolitan cities like London, we definitely have more options to eat meat-free than ever before. However, most of the places I've tried or heard of are heavy on the "healthy" aspect - and I'm definitely not complaining! It's great to have places like that for all kinds of dietary and general well-being needs. But what if you're a vegetarian, and want to go for a special date or dinner with friends, and you want to indulge a little? What if you want options that are warm and decadent and filling, and leave the restaurant having completely forgotten that it was meat-free?
Meet The Gate Restaurant. Tucked away off the beaten path (but only a couple of minutes walk away from Hammersmith station - there is also a branch in Islington), this unassuming vegetarian establishment will surprise you.
My friend C and I turned up for our girly date after long days of work and travel, and settled into what was quite a feast. I started with one of my favourite drinks, an Aperol spritz, and we decided on the Mezze Platter to share. The selection included three onion tart, grilled halloumi, potato cake, sesame crusted tofu and plantain fritters, and it was an excellent start to the dinner. I would have been happy to make the platter my main course - and it looks so pretty!
For the main event, I went for the Butternut Rotolo (roasted butternut, goats cheese and basil in a baked thyme infused rolled potato, served with a tomato and caper salsa and a lemon butter sauce) and C had the Aubergine Schnitzel (layered with applewood smoked cheddar, basil pesto, roasted red peppers and plum tomatoes, served with potato dauphinoise and pan fried kale, finished with a horseradish cream sauce), with some Polenta Fries on the side.
Our dishes were delicious, decadent and extremely filling - we kept saying that it didn't feel like a vegetarian meal at all! We actually both love vegetables and could easily eat for days without meat, but I think so many of us have this strange idea in our head that food labelled as vegetarian is somehow... less, and it is so far from the truth. I struggled to finish my dish, which with my appetite, is quite a rarity!
Of course, we couldn't resist a sweet ending, and we shared the Mille Feuille (caramelised sticky apples and sweet cream, apple and calvados sorbet garnished with apple crisps and apple sauce reduction) - it was just the kind of dessert I wanted, not too heavy and paired beautifully with the sorbet.
Despite its slightly hidden location, The Gate was pretty packed on a weekday evening, so it seems that there are people in the know who clearly love it there. It's not hard to see why - the interiors are lovely, the staff are friendly and the dishes are incredibly flavourful and imaginative. Definitely no boring salads or skimping on flair and quality!
Although I'm not giving up meat in this lifetime, I'd happily go to The Gate again - there were already a couple of dishes that I was eyeing up for next time...